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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Deliberate Leftovers: Slow-Cooker Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup

It's already established I'm soup-obsessed. Clearly. I didn't make any soup over the summer, but now that the leaves are turning, it seems like it's all I think about. I'm pinning soups like mad, I'm making lists of different soup ideas I'd like to try, and I've been covertly buying used soup cookbooks from Amazon on the cheap. (The covert part of that plan hasn't worked out so well since Mr. Soup picks up the mail.)

But I've hit on a new soup strategy that has me more excited about soup than any other. Deliberate leftovers.

Take for example, today's soup. A Slow-Cooker Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup. I originally saw a picture for this here on Plain Chicken. You might remember Plain Chicken. She's the one that inflicted introduced us to Crack Bread. I won't even 'fess up to how many times I've found an excuse to make that since last Super Bowl. Woe.

But back to the soup. The picture was amazing. I wanted that. Bad. It looked like one of those things where the sum was much much greater than the parts. Just a few ingredients to simple peasant-like deliciousness. All I needed was a ham bone. Pay attention now, this is where the genius comes in! I bought a ham.

You're not impressed, I can tell. "Genius?" you're thinking, "Hardly." But you see, my family LOVES ham. All right, fine, everybody loves ham. But my family ONLY loves ham the first night hot right out of the oven. None of the crazy people that live here will lovingly take it out of the fridge on subsequent days and slice off sliver after sliver and eat it straight off the knife. (Okay, maybe one person that lives here will do that.) So when I make a ham, I get an excellent family dinner and then I have all the rest of the ham to myself. Ham joy. And yes, genius.

Slow-Cooker Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup
Adapted from Plain Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 lb. dried Great Northern Beans
1 meaty leftover ham bone
1 large onion, diced
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups water

Sort through the beans to check for any small pebbles. Side note: I have always done this and have never once found a darn thing. Until now. Sure enough, there was an itty bitty rock in the bag.

Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and soak for a minimum of 4 hours. Drain and rinse well. (The original recipe doesn't call for the beans to be soaked at all, and I wasn't in the mood to soak overnight. Still, I worried they wouldn't truly get soft without some sort of soak. I opted to soak them for about 4 hours in the morning before I started the slow cooker up.)

Add beans, onions, and red pepper flakes to slow cooker and stir together. Nestle the ham bone into the mixture and add the water. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove ham, let cool slightly, and then shred the meat and add it back into the pot.

That's it! 5 simple ingredients that cook all day without tending. It doesn't get much easier than that.

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