The water used to cook a pot of beans is really liquid gold, infused with aromatics and thickened with starch from the beans. It makes perfect sense to give the cooking liquid a second life as the broth for the soup (and save the trouble of rinsing and draining). The ham hock will season the broth and the beans as they cook; you won’t need additional salt once they are done. Instead of cooking the kale and carrots in the soup, give them a quick sauté and stir them in at the end so they retain their vibrancy. 

Robin Bashinsky
This Story Originally Appeared On


Credit: Jennifer Causey

Recipe Summary test

25 mins
11 hrs
Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 2/3 cups)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place beans in a large bowl or container; cover with cold water to 4 inches above beans. Let the beans stand at room temperature overnight; drain.

  • Bring drained beans and 10 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven, skimming surface occasionally. Add 1/4 cup oil, thyme, bay leaves, onion, and ham hocks. Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt; cover, and simmer 1 hour and 45 minutes or until beans are tender.

  • Remove pan from heat. Remove thyme, bay leaves, and onion; discard. Place ham hocks on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones and any fat and gristle. Shred ham into bite-size pieces. Place 3 cups bean mixture in a bowl; mash with a fork. Stir ham, mashed beans, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt into remaining bean mixture.

  • Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add carrots; cook 4 minutes or until slightly tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add kale; cook 2 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally. Stir carrot mixture into soup.

Nutrition Facts

320 calories; fat 12g; saturated fat 2g; fat 8g; protein 15g; carbohydrates 38g; fiber 21g; sodium 639mg; sugars 3g.