We had our first rainy, autumn day in SF last weekend. Mack and I decided to forgo our plans to find Halloween costumes on Sunday, and stayed in watching movies instead. I usually hate the rain, and resent having to stay indoors, but on this particular day, I was glad to cuddle up and be cozy. It was the perfect weather for hot & hearty bean soup. This recipe is so easy I almost feel silly for posting a blog about it, but I think it may be a nice reminder of the lovely dishes that can be prepared quite easily in the crock pot. The crock pot is great because after a bit of preparation, you can sit back and relax while your dinner slowly simmers to perfection.
* water (enough to cover the ingredients with a couple of inches of water, approx 6-8 cups depending on the size of your crock pot)
* 1 bag of 16 bean soup mix (discard the seasoning packet)
* 1 package cubed ham in liquid (or any ham that you like)
* 1-2 bay leaves
* 10 garlic cloves, chopped haphazardly
* 1 large yellow onion, diced
* 5 green onions, diced
* 1 large tomato, quartered
* Dried basil, oregano, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper
It is essential that you soak dry beans before you cook them. Soaking the beans cleans them, cuts down on cooking time, and most importantly, reduces gassy side effects (eww). There are two ways to soak the beans. The first method is to soak them overnight (or at least 8 hours) in cold water, then drain the water and put the beans in the crock pot. But if you forgot to put your beans out to soak the night before, you can also do a quick soak method. I’ve tried both ways and I didn’t notice any difference in the final product. In either case you will want to rinse your beans thoroughly before you soak them. For the quick soak method, put them in a pot and fill it with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let the beans sit for 1 hour. Drain the water and put the beans in a crock pot.
Add the ham and remaining ingredients, stir, cover, and set your crock pot for 3 hours on high. After 3 hours, stir the soup around and let it cook for another 3 hours on high. It’s important to not take the lid off of the crock pot very often. Every time you take the lid off, it releases steam and heat and will increase the cooking time. I read somewhere that every time you take the lid off, it can add an additional 30-60 minutes to the cooking time.
You can add additional veggies to the soup too. Carrots and/or chard or other greens taste great with the beans. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired. I also like to serve cornbread or foccacia on the side. Yum.
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