Easter has come and gone, and ours was busy. Sebastian wanted lamb chops, Milena mussels, while Anastasia had some dietary restrictions thanks to an upcoming fitness competition. As for me, I wanted ham. Granted, I’m not the only one that likes ham, but in my family they are few and far between, so that definitely leaves lots of leftovers, which, in turn, can make a good amount of soup. This recipe comes from my friend Connie Rizzo. It comes with plenty of kick, but her husband, Ken, wanted a little more ham, so I’ve increased the recipe to 2½ cups. The choice is yours; enjoy.

Helpful hints

For a spicier version, leave the membranes and the seeds from the jalapeno.

To share a helpful hint or comment, send an email to lakenews@jcpgroup.com or follow me on Twitter @cacosta437.

Spicy ham and bean soup

Ingredients

2 cups dried navy beans

2 quarts water

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup sliced carrots

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

1½ teaspoons pepper

2½ teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 18-ounce ham bone (leftover bone from a bone-in ham)

2½ cups ham, cubed

¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped

1 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

Preparation

Sort and wash the beans before placing them in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans and bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour.

Drain the beans and return to the pan. Add 2 quarts water and the next eight ingredients (water through the ham bone). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Remove the pan from the heat, and discard the ham bone.

Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a blender and process until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Return the mixture to the pan, add the ham and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until heated.

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