Made-From-Scratch White Bean and Ham Soup

White Bean & Ham Soup

White Bean & Ham Soup

 

Just 10 days ago it was over 90 degrees in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Now it’s in the mid-60’s, the sky is overcast, and there is a chill in the air.  I expect the leaves to start turning any day now.  It’s the perfect time of year to make a pot of soup. 

 

I love making soups and beans in the crock pot.  If you are gluten-free or a vegetarian, the crock pot is your friend.  I make a big pot of soup and then freeze some and save the rest for lunch or to take with me in a thermos when I am working or out and about.  (The thermos is your friend, also.)  How easy it is to have a hot, gluten-free, protein-rich meal on the go.  You can avoid the temptation of the fast-food industry and nourish your body with real, home-cooked food.  Even though this recipe is not vegetarian, you can prepare it without the ham if you like.  I like to cook the beans from scratch, starting with dry beans.  Although it takes a day and a half to prepare this way, each step is very simple and the actual preparation time is minimal.  But if you are in more of a hurry, you can use 2 cans of prepared white beans and skip ahead to step 3.

 

1 lb. dry white canellini beans or navy beans

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 yellow onion

4 cloves garlic

1 lb. ham shank

2 cups vegetable stock

2 cups filtered water (plus more for soaking and cooking the beans)

2 tsp salt

fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil)

 

Step 1

 

Rinse the beans and soak them in a large bowl with enough water to cover them by double the amount.  Cover and set aside for 10-12 hours or overnight, then drain the water after soaking.

 

Step 2

 

Place the beans in a crock pot or slow cooker, and again add enough water to cover them by double the amount.  Add 1 tsp salt and cook on low for 10-12 hours or overnight.

 

Step 3

 

When the beans have finished cooking in the crock pot, turn off the heat and let them cool slightly; then drain the water.  Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and add to the beans in the crock pot, along with the ham shank, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, 2 cups filtered water, and 1 tsp salt.  Turn the heat to low and cook for another 6-8 hours.

 

Step 4

 

Take the ham shank out of the crock pot and remove the meat from the bone.  Toss out the bone and add the meat back to the soup mixture.  Chop up some fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage, rosemary and/or basil, and add to the crock pot.  Turn off the heat and allow to cool, then serve.

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