Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crockpot Ham and White Bean Soup

 This ham and white bean soup is an adaptation of a recipe I got from my mother-in-law for chicken and white bean soup.  I adapted the recipe for the slow cooker and then added some lovely, smoky ham instead of chicken for a hearty dish of awesomeness!    Ham is one of my favorite meats and I just love the slightly smoky and salty, savory flavors that the ham added to the recipe.   Of course, I had to add a healthy dousing of Louisiana Hot Sauce to my serving…………..ooooooh my, that’s good!!
To make for a faster prep in the morning before work, I chopped all the vegetables the night before and then stored then together in a bowl in the fridge overnight.  Then, the next morning, I just had to dump everything in the crockpot and turn it on!
Make this on a brisk winter day and when you come home, the aroma will carry you straight into your PJ’s and onto the couch with a blanket and a piping hot bowl of this hearty and soul-warming soup!  It’s sure to make a bad day ………or just plain old any day better! 

1 lb dry Great Northern Beans
6 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
2-3 stalks carrots, finely chopped
1 (4 oz. can) diced green chilies, or 4 fresh roasted green chilies, diced and seeded
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or a combination of black and red pepper blend
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground ginger (powdered)
1 ½ pound ham chunks or 1 meaty ham bone
Ingredients to add at the end of 10 hour cooking time:
1 tsp lime juice
1 cup cream or whole milk
Rinse beans in a colander and set aside.  Place the chicken broth in a 6 quart crockpot and mix in all the spices, salt and pepper to combine.  Next, add in the beans, ham, onion, garlic, bay leaves, celery, carrots and green chilies.  Stir and make sure the liquid just covers all ingredients. 
Place lid on crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours.  When you get home from work all you have is a few more steps and then it’s dinner time! 
Take a handheld potato masher and mash the soup mixture to break up some of the beans and add thickness to the soup.  I like to leave about half of the beans whole so that the soup will be somewhat chunky. 
Add the lime juice and 1 cup of milk or cream to the soup mixture and stir.  Turn the crockpot on high and replace lid, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to your taste.   I only cooked mine about 20 minutes more after adding the milk and lime juice.  That’s just enough time to make some delicious garlic bread (or 45 minutes to make beer bread-* see below) to go on the side!  So delicious and comforting on a cool fall or winter day! 

*When I made this recipe the first time, I made some quick homemade beer bread and man-oh-man was it the perfect compliment to this hearty dish!