Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spicy Ham and 10-Bean Soup

Spicy ham and bean soup is the perfect comfort food and it is best made in a slow cooker where the beans won’t catch at the bottom as they begin to plump out, soften and thicken the soup. 

Mix and match ingredients
If there is any recipe that is forgiving of mixing and matching and adding more or less of this and that, it’s bean soup. Especially bean soup cooked in a crockpot or slow cooker. I’ve given you some guidelines here of what I usually toss in but feel free to add a can of crushed tomatoes or more carrots or fewer chilies. Use smoked pork loin or sausage instead of ham. Up the amount of garlic or toss in some leftover caramelized onions if you’ve got some handy. It’s all good! Beans are best friends with just about every vegetable I can think of and using a mix of different beans means that the smaller, quicker cooking beans will essential dissolve as the soup cooks, thickening it beautifully and leaving you with a hearty bowl of comfort that sits well on a spoon and sticks to your ribs.

Crockpot potential - so much more than soup!
I use my slow cooker frequently in the summertime to avoid turning on the stove or oven but as weather gets cooler in the northern hemisphere, I start making soup. I know for a lot of families, soup is a starter course to be followed by the main meal but I firmly believe that a good, thick soup is a meal in itself, especially with some vegetables thrown in. I am delighted this week to be sharing a long list of wonderful Sunday Supper Slow Cooking recipes - from drinks to desserts - that can all be made in your crockpot. Special thanks to Christie of A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Heather of Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks for hosting this event. Make sure you scroll down past my bean soup to see all the links.


1.1 lb or 500g assorted dried beans (A 16 oz bag will work fine as well.)
1 carrot (4 2/3 oz or 130g)
1 onion (about 3 1/2 oz or 100g)
3 cloves garlic
2 fresh red chilies
Olive oil
1 1/2 lbs or 700g ham
3/4 cup macaroni or small pasta of your choice – optional
Sea salt
Black pepper

Start softening your beans by putting them in an heatproof bowl and covering them with boiling water. Put a plate on top of the bowl to hold some of the heat in and allow the beans to soak for one hour. This replaces the overnight soak that is often recommended when cooking dried beans.

While the beans are soaking, peel and chop your carrot and onion. Slice your garlic and mince the red chilies.

Cut the ham into chunks. This is an excellent use of the end bits you can often find discounted in the deli section of most supermarkets. I buy them and toss them, well-wrapped, in the freezer till it's time for soup. Another bonus of buying the end bits that are too small for the deli to slice safely is that, sometimes, they have spices on the outside or charred marks from the roasting, which add even more flavor.

Put a good drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of your crockpot or slow cooker and pile in the carrot, onion, garlic and chilies.

Add the ham and cook on high, with the lid firmly closed until the beans are finished their hour soaking time. If you have planned ahead and the beans are already soaked, everything can go in at once.

When the beans are ready, pour out any soaking water that was not absorbed and give them a quick rinse.

Add the beans to the pot and cover with fresh water plus an additional two or three inches above the beans. Give the slow cooker a good stir.

Put the lid on securely and cook on high for three to four hours or on low for five to six hours. Check your beans for doneness occasionally towards the end of the cooking time.

When the beans are sufficiently soft, and about half an hour before you are ready to serve, add the macaroni, if desired. Give it a good stir and cook on high, covered, until it is done. This makes a very thick soup, especially if you have added the pasta, so feel free to add a little more water, if you want to thin it out a bit. Personally, a soup I can almost eat with a fork is my ideal soup.

Taste your soup and add salt and some freshly ground black pepper to your liking. I recommend this step at the very end because some hams are very salty and there’s no way of judging ahead of time how salty that will make your soup.


Are you a fan of cracking crockpot recipes? Have I got a link list for you!

Satiating Soups
Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Scintillating Sweets and Sips
Savory Baking

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