With only a dimly lit Christmas tree illuminating the room in our quiet house, I’m savoring the last waking hours of our holiday decorations knowing my husband will start dismantling everything in the morning. This can only mean one thing for my children… they finally get my blessing to eat the candy off their individual gingerbread houses we made and displayed on our buffet as a holiday centerpiece.

A few weeks ago, we challenged junior Kitchen Explorers to submit a picture of their own decorated gingerbread house for an opportunity to be featured on the PBS Parents site. It is my pleasure to showcase 4-yr old, Neha’s beautiful masterpiece here on Kitchen Explorers. Isn’t her house lovely? Great job, Neha!

My kids are enjoying their winter break by spending time with cousins, out of town family, and the welcomed break of having no homework. My job is to feed everyone, doing my best to eat through all the leftovers before I re-commit myself to healthier eating starting New Year’s Day.

Today, I have a simple ham and sweet potato soup recipe using left over spiral ham we feasted on yesterday. I like this recipe because it is easy to make and the smoked ham adds a lot of flavor. Enjoy!

Ham and Sweet Potato Soup by Kitchen Explorers

Recipe: Ham and Sweet Potato Soup

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • A flavorful ham and sweet potato soup with spinach and black beans.


      2 lbs. fully cooked ham (leftovers from a spiral ham works great)

    • 8 cups water
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon thyme
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed in 1-inch pieces
    • 1-15.5 ounces can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves


    1. Place ham in a large soup pot and add 8 cups of water to make stock. Bring the water to boil and then to a low simmer for 2 hours. Turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot. Allow the stock to rest overnight.
    2. The next morning, remove any top layer of fat. Remove the ham from the stock and chop and shred the meat in 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer the ham back to the pot.
    3. Heat the stock pot on medium-high heat.
    4. While the pot is heating, heat the oil on medium heat in a frying pan. Sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper.
    5. Add the onions mixture, sweet potato, and black beans to the stock pot.
    6. Allow the soup to come to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup for 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
    7. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
    8. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves. Stir the soup with a long wooden spoon for 10 seconds until the spinach is wilted.
    9. Serve immediately.

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