Whenever I serve ham, I’m left with a ham bone that still has a lot of meat on it, so here’s the best way to maximize all that delicious protein. Make soup! Slow cooking the ham bone with beans (no need for soaking here either) and vegetables along with fresh thyme melds together wonderfully comforting aromas and flavors that bring back memories of home when my mother would do the same thing with her ham. I don’t think she had a slow cooker back then, so she’d put it all on the stove and let it simmer all day taking care to keep the water level high enough to avoid scorching. With a slow cooker, that problem is solved unless you totally forget about it and leave it on forever. I love putting it all together at night then waking to the fragrant aromas of cooked ham and beans. The remaining ham literally falls off the bone, the vegetables are super soft and the sauce is thick and flavorful. Just add a little water if it’s too thick.
The ham and beans provide tons of protein and along with the vitamin/mineral rich beans, this soup is so good for you. It’s budget-friendly and so easy to make that I’m guessing this lands on the menu planner more often.
- Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 meaty ham bone or 2 meaty smoked ham hocks (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
- 1 pound dried white or mixed beans
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon chicken base)
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 sprigs thyme, plus picked leaves for garnishing
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 loaf crusty bread, sliced
- Olive oil for dipping
- In a large slow cooker, combine the ham bone or hocks, beans, broth, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, about 7-8 hours.
- Discard the thyme stems. Using tongs, remove the ham bone or hocks and shred the meaty parts; discard the skin, fat and bones. Return the shredded ham back to the slow cooker and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the thyme leaves. Serve with sliced bread and olive oil for dipping.
*If the sauce is too thick after slow cooking for 7-8 hours, add a little water to thin it out.
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