Cherish the Ham Bone (Recipe: Slow-cooker Navy Bean Soup)
January 12, 2013
Ham bones and dried beans cry out for each other in the night. They have a natural affinity and love it when they can get together. You can throw all types of dried beans in a pot with a ham bone and wind up with deliciousness. You really don’t need to add much of anything except some salt, pepper and maybe some onion. The beans get a wonderful smokey flavor from the ham bone.
Now, if you’ve ever thrown away a ham bone as soon as the ham’s been carved, drop to your knees now and ask for forgiveness. And then hit yourself in the head and repeat after me, “What on earth was I thinking?” If you don’t have anything in mind for the ham bone right away, throw it in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer until you get ready to use it. I frequently have to wade through ham bones, shrimp and crab shells, turkey and chicken carcasses, pork roast bones and food scrapes in my freezer to find uncooked food.
Navy bean soup is easy, nutritious, delicious, hearty and debit card friendly. That’s a winner in anybody’s book.
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Slow-cooker Navy Bean Soup
A slow-requires less water than a stockpot. Water condensation forms on the lid of the slow-cooker and adds water. To adapt this recipe to a stockpot, use 8 cups of water instead of 6.
The final texture of the soup is a matter of preference. Serve it just as it is without pureeing any of it, or purée until completely smooth, or anything in-between I would recommend a least a light purée since the smashed beans help thicken the broth.
Crockpots come in all different sizes. A small one wouldn’t be big enough to hold the contents of this recipe. Mine is oblong and measures 11 inches across. I filled it to the brim with the ham bone, beans and vegetables and could only get about 6 1/2 cups of water in. Of course, the ham bone takes up a lot of space but I formulated the recipe for a slow-cooker because that’s the way so many folks, including myself, like to cook soups. I prefer my stockpot over my slow-cooker if I’m making a batch big enough to feed the county and I need a bigger size cooking vessel than the slow-cooker offers.
1 pound dried Navy beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 ham bone
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced including tops
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
parsley, handful trimmed and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
6 to 7 cups water
Place ham bone to slow cooker and add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and bay leaf.
Add soaked and drained beans. Sprinkle seasoned salt over beans. Cover beans with as much water as you can fit in cooker.
Cook on slow for 12 hours or high for 8 to 10 hours or until beans and vegetables are tender. Add more water if necessary.
Remove bay leaf and soup bone when soup is done.
Puree about 1/3 of the soup mixture by using an immersion blender or transferring to a blender or food processor. Or, you can use a potato masher and mash it around a bit until part of the soup is pureed.
Remove ham from bone, dice and add back to soup.
Taste for seasoning and adjust.
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