Ham and green bean soup is a Southern classic, but I grew up eating the Pennsylvania Dutch version. As much as I love the flavors of the classic dish, I felt like it could use some oomph. I amped up the flavors with loads of garlic and chorizo in this spicy ham and green bean soup.
This spicy ham and green beans recipe is a set-it-and-forget-it slow cooking dream. First, you’ll want to prepare a rich both and let it cook down for several hours. This will create a creamy, smoky broth that will be the perfect vessel for the soup.
The recipe for this spicy ham soup is easy. Simply prepare a fragrant ham stock, brown the chorizo and onion and then fill to the brim with ham stock, potatoes, and finally, green beans.
The result is a spicy, rich soup that will satisfy any salty craving. You want to be very careful with salt in this recipe because of how salty the ham hocks are. I would recommend salting very lightly and only finishing with salt at the very end. You will have a very salty ham stock that you may need to cut with more water, depending on your preferences.
If you want to try something different, skip the potatoes and serve this soup over mashed potatoes or even over cheesy grits (if you REALLY feel like being decadent). For this, you can thicken the broth by adding flour to it to create more of a gravy than a broth.
Spicy Ham and Green Bean Soup
- Fine mesh sieve
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and quartered
- 3 heads garlic halved cross-wise, skin left on
- 3 pounds smoked ham hocks
- 9 cups water
- 1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil
- ¾ pound loose chorizo or hot Italian sausage
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- ¼ cup white wine optional, or use water
- 2 cups water plus more, if needed
- 1½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes scrubbed and quartered
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 pounds fresh string beans trimmed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder optional
- Freshly minced parsley optional, for garnish
Prepare the Ham Broth:
- In a large stockpot, heat the 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the green garlic stalks and the onion wedges. Cook for 5-7 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the ham and cover with the 9 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for at least 4 hours or until the liquid has reduced and the ham is nearly falling off the bone. Note: The ham is very salty; do not season the water with salt.
- Remove the ham from the pot and transfer to a bowl. Allow cooling before picking the meat from the bones. Discard excess fat and the bones.
- Drain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard solids. Allow the stock to cool and skim off any fat from the top of the broth.
- Wipe out the stockpot and return it to the stove.
Cook the Chorizo:
- Once the stock has finished cooking and the fat has been skimmed, cook the chorizo. Heat the 1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil over medium heat until hot. Crumble the chorizo into the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes or until well-browned and completely cooked through. Break the chorizo up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl, leaving any oil and fond in the pot.
Prepare the Soup Base:
- Keeping the heat on the stockpot on medium, add the diced yellow onion. Cook, stirring regularly, for 6-7 minutes or until the onion is softened.
- Add the white wine and loosen any stuck-on bits with a spoon. Once the wine has reduced, pour in the reserved ham stock.
Finish the Soup:
- Add the cooked chorizo and cooked ham to the soup along with the thyme sprigs and quartered potatoes. If there isn’t enough liquid in the pot, add the two cups of water, plus more as necessary. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.
- Add the green beans and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the paprika and cayenne and cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes or until the green beans are tender-crisp.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Enjoy!