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Friday, May 13, 2011

Crockpot Ham and Bean (or Bean and Ham) Soup

Another post-Easter/Christmas perennial.  My husband's grandfather, to whom this blog is dedicated, often made much of the distinction between "beef and vegetable" soup and "vegetable and beef" soup...the former being made when you have more beef than vegetables on hand, and the latter when you have more veggies than beef.  In this case, it depends on how much meat is left on your hambone whether you have "ham and bean" or "bean and ham" soup. 

I can't not have something green in a meal, so I add veggies at the end of cooking.  I add frozen peas right to my kids' plates to help cool them faster.  In just a few minutes, the heat transfer softens the veggies and cools the soup.  If you want to use fresh greens or want more fully cooked veggies, add them when you add the tomatoes.

Believe it or not, you can mess up making bean soup in a crockpot (I screw up so you don't have to).  Because a crockpot cooks more gently than a simmering pot on the stovetop, beans can come out cronchy and undercooked without proper handling.  It is tempting to put every ingredient you'll use in the crockpot at the start of cooking, but acid (as from tomatoes) will interfere with proper bean cooking, so they must be added 30-60 minutes before serving.  And because little liquid is lost in crockpot cooking (as opposed to the reduction process that occurs on the stovetop), there is a risk of coming out with watery, thinly-flavored soup.

So soak your beans overnight, add acidic ingredients at the end of cooking and don't add too much liquid in the first place.  This recipe can be prepped ahead the night before for cooking the next day or frozen as a kit (soak beans before freezing), or can be fully made ahead and frozen in single-serving portions for later reheating.

Ham and Bean Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

12 oz. dried beans (15-bean mix, navy beans, pinto beans)
1 leftover hambone with some meat still on it
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp liquid smoke
3 cups chicken broth (no or low sodium)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen veggies (green beans, peas, corn) or 2 cups chopped fresh greens (optional)

Soak beans in water overnight, or at least 6-8 hours.  Drain.  If making a freezer kit, freeze beans, hambone, onion, garlic, broth and liquid smoke in one container and label tomatoes for pantry storage.

To cook, add all ingredients except tomatoes to crockpot.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.  Add tomatoes 30-60 minutes before serving (add greens or frozen veggies, if desired).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bone.  Remove meat, shred it and return it to the pot to serve. Pin It

1 comment:

  1. Terry and I were just talking about making this soup. Alas, I has no hambone!