Since the beginning of winter, my little corner of the mid-Atlantic has gotten socked with more snow than I ever remember seeing as a child. Just when the roads get cleared and schools reopen...BAM! Along comes another blizzard.
This kind of weather always makes me think about comfort foods and simple, hearty foods that warm me right down to my toes. For some reason, ham and bean soup fits that bill just now.
This "recipe" is so simple that you can throw it together in a pot on the stove and let it simmer all day while you're playing out in the snow. Or, you can do what I did and toss it in the crock pot and forget about it until dinner time. Either way, it's so easy you're going to laugh.
Soak/simmer/slow cook for six hours. The low heat and acids from the vegetable broth will help soften the beans and the long cook time helps break down the gas-producing enzymes.
If you are cooking this on the stove, check beans periodically. You'll want to add the extra water when it looks like the vegetable broth is about absorbed.
After six hours, add the ham and any additional water you want to make the soup the desired consistency; I tend to like mine a bit on the thick side.
Turn up the heat and allow to simmer for approximately two hours. If using the crock pot, turn heat to high and leave it alone for two full hours.
Soup is done when the beans are soft and easily mashed using a fork or spoon.
Serve with some hot rolls or biscuits, a side salad and feel the warmth reach your toes.
NOTE: If you are going to use the stovetop method, you may want to consider soaking the beans the night before. I use the crockpot because I cannot leave my stove on for that length of time with my son at home; it's just not safe given his propensity to climb gates and get into mischief in the blink of an eye.
Ditto making a homemade vegetable broth. My life is so hectic right now that I don't have the patience or energy to devote to making my own broth. That said, if you have an easy broth recipe for the slow cooker? Please share it!
If you're running short on time, toss in a couple of cans of beans instead of using dried; there's really no wrong way to make this yummy, hearty soup.