Hearty Bean Soup
- 1/4 pound cooked ham, in one piece
- 2 medium-size celery stalks
- 2 medium-size carrots
- 1 medium-size onion
- 1 medium-size zucchini (about 8 ounces)
- 2 15 to 19 ounce cans white kidney beans (cannellini) rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon olive or salad oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 14-1/2 to 16 ounce can stewed tomatoes
- 1 13-3/4 to 14-1/2 ounce can chicken broth
- 1/2 medium size bunch spinach, chopped, with tough stems removed (about 1 cup packed)
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
Step 1: Cut ham into 1/2" pieces; dice celery; thinly slice carrots; chop onion; dice zucchini.
Step 2: Remove 1-1/2 cups white kidney beans to medium bowl; with potato masher or fork, mash beans until smooth. In 5-quart Dutch oven, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add ham, celery, carrots, onions, zucchini, basil, and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender and begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Stir in stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, chopped spinach, mashed white beans, and 2 cups water, using spoon to break up tomatoes; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in remaining beans; heat through.
Step 4: To serve, spoon soup into large soup bowls. Sprinkle each with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.