Ham and Navy Bean Soup

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Hearty and thick, ham and navy bean soup is perfect for a cold, wintry day. Packed with protein and vegetables, it’s a complete meal in itself. My version of this classic gets a healthy, zesty update with the help of some smoked paprika, plus an added boost of vitamins and minerals from the baby spinach. I’ve posted two versions of this recipe: one for the stovetop and one for the slow cooker. It can also be made ahead and frozen for a quick meal anytime. Serve with your favorite crusty loaf of bread for a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner. Vegetarian or vegan? No problem. Just swap in vegetable broth for the chicken broth and omit the ham. Watching your salt intake? Reduce the ham to one package and use low-sodium chicken broth. Short on time? Use canned beans and reduce the simmering time to 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 7-oz packages uncured ham, diced
  • 1 lb navy beans, washed and sorted
  • 1 32-oz carton chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp dried minced onion, or half a raw onion, minced
  • 4 small stalks celery plus leaves, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (without salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Directions:

In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients except spinach and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, turn heat down and simmer, partially covered, for 3-4 hours, or until beans are cooked through. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

Directions for Slow Cooker:

Combine all ingredients except spinach, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-9 hours. Stir in spinach, re-cover slow cooker, and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

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