White Bean Soup with Broiled Cheese & Croutons

A new take on a classic warm meal in my family. This white bean soup is true to its roots, with a homemade ham bone broth and made savory with plenty of garlic and onion. I added some of my favorites; green lentils, mozzarella cheese and  croutons to give it a little extra love. I may have added a few extra cloves of garlic in there too...

To me, this is the ultimate in comfort food for a cold rainy day or to warm up at the cabin after a long day outdoors.

Have you ever been transported back in time to a memory by a smell, sound, feeling, physical setting or someone's facial expression? This happens to me quite a lot, but this one evening before bedtime, I was rocking my son (Arlo, 2) in our rocking chair and was brought back to a multitude of memories I had with my Nanny Vera. Mornings at her place waiting for "hot cereal" to be warmed on the stove for breakfast, watching her knit in her rocking chair, and being held by her. She was, and still is, though she is no longer with us, a big part of my life. I grew up with her close by when she wasn't traveling, and the smell of lupine flowers and frozen partridge berries still make me think of her often. These memories brought a tear to my eye with the most beautiful emotion, and for some reason I thought, I need to make her white bean ham bone soup.

I don't particularly remember her making this soup, but my mom always did, and I know she did too. So, I got up the very next morning and, without a recipe, created this version of my Nanny Vera's soup which has been recreated by my mom, and then recreated by me.  

Nanny didn't use croutons and cheese in her soup, that was my mom's idea. Brilliant! I added the lentils and summer savory and came up with my own measurements.

If you are gluten free like myself, use your gluten free bread of course. The rest of this soup is naturally gluten free. You're welcome!

Though the ham bone broth is definitely my favorite part of this soup, you can easily make it with a chicken or vegetable broth. I always recommend making your own broths but store bought is just fine! 

*To make a ham bone broth, if you wish to, simply remove all ham from the bone, place the bone in a soup pot, cover with water,  add a generous amount of salt and boil for a few hours. Voila! I like to add half an onion and some whole cloves of garlic but that is optional. Strain before using to make your soup. It's that simple and so full of nutrition. Bonus: you control the amount of sodium and the ingredients that go into your broth. Win Win.

After I finished making the soup, chasing the kids, cleaning the kitchen and taking a dozen or more photos of the process of making the soup, I sat down with my hot bowl and the teacup my Nanny left me when she passed, and had a cup of Tetley tea and sat in silence. Feeling her presence, feeling calm and warm and loved. All because I sat in a rocking chair with my son and was present with him. 

Oh how beautiful life's small moments can be. Enjoy friends.

White Bean Soup with Broiled Cheese & Croutons

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 2 yellow potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 cups broth (ham bone, chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 tbsp summer savory (winter savory or oregano will work fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups white beans (if dry, soak as per instructions on package)
  • 1/2 cup green lentils (dry or canned are fine)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sliced bread, toasted (cut into squares for "croutons")
  • shredded mozzarella cheese, to taste

  1.  If you already have your broth ready, set it aside. If you are planning to make your own broth, start with that, then set aside.
  2.  In a soup pot, heat onion, garlic and savory over medium low heat. Meanwhile chop carrots, celery and potatoes into small pieces. 
  3. Once the onions are sweating, add  celery, carrot and potato, then cook for approx. 10 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and add both beans and lentils. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until beans are soft. 
  5. You can serve the soup on its own or you can spoon into lion head soup bowls (also known as french onion soup bowls) or ramekins, and top with the toasted "croutons" and mozzarella cheese. Broil in the oven until cheese is melted and serve hot. Be careful when handling the bowls as they will be very hot.

If you would like to see more inspiration be sure to check out my Instagram page grace.and.jack !


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