I cobbled this recipe together from several different ones. I wanted a hearty, healthy soup for New Year's day, and it turned out beautifully! My recipe has very little added salt, but you may wish to add a teaspoon or two to suit your taste.
Trim ham, if necessary. Fry 1-2 tbs of the ham fat or bacon in olive oil with garlic for about 1 minute. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add beans, 4 cups water, and spices (don't add salt here.) Simmer for 40 minutes. Add ham, tomatoes plus 2 cups water (use the can to measure), and Rice-a-Roni with seasonings. Simmer another 30 minutes. Add in kale, (and 1 tsp salt here if you wish) and cook another 5-10 minutes, until kale is to your liking. Serve up with cornbread for a great meal!