January 22, 2013
Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup
Well, I'm sure you all know why I've gathered you here today, so let's begin.
If you had ham over the holidays, maybe you have a ham bone lingering in your freezer and you're hoping to do something fabulous with it. Well, I'm not sure what you had in mind when you chucked it in there, but this soup is why I kept mine.
This is a serious budget meal. The ham bone was, well, let's call it free, since it was purchased concurrent with your Christmas dinner. Beans -- does it get cheaper than dried beans? Not really. Onions, celery, carrot: all things you probably have on hand, and wouldn't break the bank to get if you didn't.
And I don't think I need to tell you how easy it is, since the "slow cooker" aspect kind of says that on its own. But it has all the simplicity implied and makes a nice big batch, so it will serve many with almost no effort, and almost no cost.
So far we've covered cheap and easy, so I guess the only thing left to really sell you on is the taste. I admit, I was a bit skeptical. I kind of went into it expecting bland, but it went way beyond the sum of its parts. The beans get creamy, the way beans should, the ham meat and bone give a richness of flavor, rounded out nicely by the smoky paprika and cumin. The original recipe called for coriander, but that's not my thing, so I swapped it out for a dash of nutmeg, which I think gives it a little something indefinably special.
So... I think I've covered all of your concerns. I hope you've enjoyed my presentation today. My agent will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Good day, ladies and gents!
Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup
adapted from My Kitchen Addiction
1 large onion, diced
1 or 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dried beans (I used a mixture of white, kidney, and pinto. All white would be nice, too.), soaked overnight in water to cover by 1 or two inches and 1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 – 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Ham bone with meat
6 – 8 cups liquid (I used all water, but you could use half water, half vegetable or chicken stock)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine onion, celery, carrot, garlic, beans, smoked paprika, cumin, nutmeg, and thyme, plus a pinch of salt and pepper in the bottom of slow cooker. Place ham bone on top and fill with liquid to cover ham bone. My slow cooker took about 6 cups, but you might have more or less depending on the size of your slow cooker and the ham bone in question.
Cook on low for 8 hours, until beans are tender.
Remove ham bone and sprigs of thyme. Remove about 1/3 of the soup mixture from the cooker, and puree until smooth. Return it to slow cooker. Cut meat from ham bone, excluding any fatty bits, dice, and add back to slow cooker. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.