April 11, 2011

Ham & Vegetable Bean Soup

2- 2 1/2 quarts ham stock*
1 1/2 cup diced ham
1 lb dried northern beans
2 ham hocks or 1 ham bone (wrap hocks securely in cheesecloth)
3 stalks celery, chopped (with greens)
3 small turnips, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


The night before you want to serve: Place the beans in the insert of a round 6 quart slow cooker and fill with water until the beans are under about 4 inches of water. The next day drain the beans and pour them back into the slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cubed ham and parsley. Cook on low 8-10 hrs. 20 minutes before you could like to eat, brown the ham on all sides in a nonstick pan. Meanwhile, remove the ham bone/hock and add any meat back to the slow cooker. Discard the bone(s). Add the ham and parsley to the slow cooker. Stir. Cook for the remaining 15 or so minutes.

*Your slow cooker should be 3/4 full to start. If 2 quarts isn't enough, use up to 2 1/2 quarts.

My thoughts:

I don't cook a lot with dried beans because I am impatient but they work really well in slow cooker soups. This one was a great reason to use up the ham stock I made eariler in the the year before making another batch. I know taking the time to wrap the ham hocks in cheesecloth seems fussy but it keeps them from breaking apart in the soup leaving behind bits of bone. They really, really fall apart when you cook them like this. They also don't give off much meat, so I always add extra.