photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 8 servings.

1 pound dried navy beans
1 ham bone
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
5 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
1½ cups smoked ham, cut into small chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with 3 inches of water. Soak the dried beans overnight (up to 24 hours) to soften. Drain when ready to use.

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil, butter, ham bone, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the drained beans, thyme, chili powder, paprika, crushed red pepper, chicken broth, water, and chopped ham.

Bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1½ hours, covered, until the beans are very soft. Stir occasionally.

Use a fork to pull any remaining ham off the bone and stir it into the soup. Discard the bone and thyme sprigs. If the soup is too thick, add 1 to 2 cups additional water. Taste, then add salt and pepper as needed.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.