Makes 3 quarts. Aside from the soaking of beans, this recipe is quickly thrown in the slow cooker - but fabulous 5 hours later. Thick bean soup with abundant ham chunks. Sometimes eaten with fresh garlic-sauteed spinach mixed into it.
A good smoked ham shank is one of my favorite pieces of soup meat. I watch the various purveyors at the market, checking for sales and comparing the meatiness and heft of the shanks. One butcher occasionally offers applewood-smoked shanks. The shanks fall apart in the soup with little waste.
I calculated a rough estimate for the calorie and fat content of this recipe, It is hard to
estimate fat in homemade stock and soup. I think a
whole batch with a 2-lb shank is 3460 calories with 140 grams of fat.
A serving of about a cup (1/12th of a 3-qt batch) would have about 288 calories and 12 grams of fat. Lots and lots of fiber.
1. SOAK BEANS: Put beans in a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, then cover, remove from heat, and let sit for an hour. (You can also put the beans in a bowl or pot and cover them with water at least 2 inches above the beans, and let them sit overnight.) Drain and rinse. Beans will look gray - that will cook out later.
2. LOAD SLOWCOOKER with beans and the ham shank. Add the
rest of the ingredients except salt. Do not salt soup until cooking is done, since the ham hock is already salty. Use your judgment with thyme,
parsley and pepper. You may substitute fresh herbs if available, as minced leaves. Be careful not to use too
much red pepper. If you don't like chunks of carrot and celery, put
them in whole and remove when soup is done; otherwise, you can dice
them into the soup.
3. COOK on High for 4-5 hours, or on Low for 8-9 hours, until ham falls off the bone.
4. Remove bay leaves, bones and any visible pieces of gristle with a slotted spoon. Pull out
the big ham chunks and shred them with two forks, then put back in.
If soup is not thick, allow to cook for another hour with lid off, to
reduce the water content. Salt only after cooking is complete - the
ham hock is already salty (and so is the stock if you use canned).
Fills a 4-quart slow cooker to the very brim. Fits more comfortably in a 7-quart cooker. Can also be made in a lidded pot on the stovetop, cooked on low for a few hours.
Goya's 16 Bean Soup Mix contains various sizes of red, black, and white beans, plus peas, barley, and lentils. You could substitute a pound of almost any dried bean or bean/pea mix, purchased or homegrown.
Inexpensive ingredients that are easy to keep on hand. I watch for ham shanks on sale and keep a few in the freezer. The bean mix regularly
goes on sale for 99 cents.
Can be made with chicken stock or pork stock. Try the Dark Pork Stock recipe in the list.