Dry beans, a ham bone or ham hocks, and seasonings make this a tasty soup, and it's easy on the budget. There are lots of possibilities for additions, including some herbs, various vegetables, bacon, etc. See the tips and variations for ideas.
The important thing to remember when cooking dry beans in the slow cooker is that salt and acidic ingredients can keep beans from becoming tender. These beans get a head start on the stovetop, but it might not be enough to make them tender. Hold off on adding the salt until the beans are finished cooking, and then taste the soup and add what it needs.
- 1 1/2 cups navy beans (dry)
- 1 large carrot (finely chopped)
- 1/2 celery (finely chopped, with some leaves)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 ham hock (3/4 pound or a meaty ham bone or several pieces of boneless ham)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Optional: black pepper to taste
- Soak the navy beans in water for 12 hours, or overnight. Drain well.
- Put the beans in a Dutch oven, large saucepan, or stock pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Put the beans and cooking water in the slow cooker with the diced carrot, celery, onion, and ham or ham bone. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 9 hours, or until the beans are tender.
- Remove the ham hock or ham bone and discard skin, fat, and bone (if using several pieces of boneless ham, ignore this step). Cut the meat into small pieces and then return to the soup.
- the beans can be mashed or partially mashed to thicken the soup if desired.
Serve the soup with fresh baked cornbread or biscuits. Try crusty rolls or French bread with this soup.
Add a basic tossed salad for a hearty everyday meal.
Tips and Variations
- Replace the navy beans with small white beans or great northern beans.
- Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the beans.
- Add 2 medium bay leaves to the slow cooker along with the beans and vegetables.
- Add a few strips of diced bacon, or serve the beans with crumbled bacon sprinkled over each serving.
- Replace the ham with diced browned andouille sausage or another type of smoked sausage.
- Sprinkle servings with toasted bread crumbs or cubes or top with some crumbled cooked bacon.