This soup all started with the biggest white beans I’ve ever seen in my life. After doing some internet research, I don’t think they’re as big as the ones they eat in Greece, but they’re about an inch long before they’re cooked and, since I’d never seen dried beans like this before, I was a little intimidated.
Soup seemed like a natural choice, but I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to put in it. I read recently about “the holy trinity” of Cajun cooking – bell pepper, onion, and celery, and thought that would be a good place to start, but I thought it would be missing something if I didn’t put some carrots in there too. So I did. And some ham, because you don’t need much to add lots and lots of flavor. Finally, I decided some cabbage might be nice, because I just happen to always have some in my fridge (so I can whip up my new obsession at a moment’s notice).
If you’re like I was up until about 2 months ago, the thought of cooking your own dry beans seems like a complete waste of time since you can get them so easily and cheaply in a can (in most parts of the world). That is a completely valid point and I’m sure canned white beans would be fine here, and if you can’t find the giant beans I used, don’t worry.
With fall weather coming and the need for a steaming bowl of soup becoming stronger by the day, this is a great recipe to turn to. I’m hoping that by making excessive quantities of soup, the Seoul weather gods will get the hint and it will start feeling cooler. I feel like everywhere in the world has made the transition, but it still feels like summer here!
A note about seasoning – for a long time I was really afraid of adding too much salt, so I made pot after pot of bland, flat-tasting soup. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to trust your taste buds, and just add a pinch at a time, stirring in between, until it tastes good to you.
1 tbsp butter
1 green bell pepper, stem, seeds and veins removed
1 rib celery
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/4 lb ham, cut in 1/4″ dice
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
2 cups cooked white beans
6 cups water or broth
Cut the carrot, bell pepper, celery, and onion into 1/4″ dice.
Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium, and add the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the ham and cook a few minutes more.
Add the cabbage, beans and water and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. Add additional broth or water if it looks like a lot has evaporated.
Taste and add salt and pepper – the amount you need will depend on the saltiness of the ham and whether you’re using broth or water.