Bean soup makes me of my Dad, who loves to make a pot of bean soup. I was talking to him recently and mentioned I was making bean soup. He had several questions and sounded very interested. I made a note to set aside some cups in the freezer to take to him my next visit. Maybe that’s what made this soup so good; knowing that my Dad would be judging it. It turned out so good even my P.S. is still raving about it!
I love to use ham hocks with beans, whether it’s in baked beans or bean soup. The smokiness adds a great touch to a bean dish and call me weird but I like to take the hocks apart afterwards and separate out the little meat bits. I let the hocks cool a little before handling, but I enjoy digging out the meat pieces to put back in the pot of beans. It’s not always easy to even find smoked ham hocks in the grocery stores but when I do, I’m making beans of some kind!
I used my crockpot to make the bean soup this time. I added the ham hock to the crockpot and moved on to sauté my vegetables.
I like to have the vegetables a little browned, just around the edges, for optimum flavor. I heated a large skillet on medium high, added a drizzle of oil and sautéed the chopped celery and onion. I happened to have only red onions; any kind of onion would do. I chopped the ends off the celery bunch and used the leaves as well.
I sliced up some carrots and added them to the skillet. I wanted just a little sear because they’d finish cooking in the crockpot. The final minute of sautéing I added 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic and stirred well. Cooking the garlic too long on high heat turns it brown and bitter so it’s best added at the end.
I added the skillet of vegetables to the crockpot along with 6 cups of water and 8 chicken bouillon cubes. I use an organic chicken cube when I’m not using a carton of broth.
Cannellini beans, also called white kidney beans, were my beans of choice. I used all 5 cans I had on hand plus a can of Great Northern beans. I drained then rinsed them and added them to the crockpot.
I went light on the seasoning, adding 2 bay leaves and some parsley. A recipe I had looked at used parsley and that seemed like a good idea to me.
I put the lid on the crockpot and set the dial on high for 4 hours. By then the carrots were tender and the ham hock was ready to cool and remove the meat.
I placed the meaty bits back in the crockpot and taste tested for seasoning before replacing the lid. I let the soup cook for another hour on low heat.
We loved the flavors of this soup, simple and hearty. Eaten with crackers or biscuits it was a very satisfying meal. I’m eager to see what my Dad thinks!
White Bean Soup with Ham Hocks
- 1-2 lbs smoked ham hocks
- 3 ribs celery; chopped with any celery leaves you have
- 1 large onion; chopped (I used a red one)
- drizzle of oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup small carrots; sliced (or diced larger carrots)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 6 cups water
- 8 bouillon cubes (I use an organic one)
- 6 cans cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans) (I used 1 can of great northern beans)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- In a large nonstick skillet heat a drizzle of oil over medium high heat. Add celery and any chopped leaves, onion and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and sauté until they begin to turn brown around the edges. Add garlic and sauté for one minute more.
- Add vegetables to a crockpot along with 6 cups of water and bouillon cubes. You could use a chicken broth but I find most don’t have enough flavor on their own.
- Drain and rise beans well. Add to crockpot.
- Add bay leaves and dried parsley and set the crockpot on high for 4 hours.
- Remove ham hocks and cool for a few minutes. Cut meat into pieces, discarding bones and skin. Dice ham finely and add back to crockpot.
- Taste test for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired. Cook for another hour on low heat.