Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.
Slow Cooker Soups
I love making slow cooker soups as they fill the house with delightful aromas and make me feel like I'm doing something very worthwhile during my working hours! That is an added bonus.
This is a very simple soup that I just threw together with the ingredients that I had on hand when I was trying to figure out a way to use up my very meaty ham bone from our New Year's ham.
Apply some of these same ideas to other leftover bones you have rather than throwing them out. For instance, a prime rib roast has great bones that make a terrific vegetable soup or a beef and barley soup!
If you can't use the bones right away, pop them in the freezer and use within 3-6 months for optimum freshness. It also always helps to have a bit of meat on the bone you can chunk off into the soup.
- 1 meaty ham bone
- 4 or 5 large carrots, peeled and chunked
- 4 or 5 stalks of celery, washed and chunked
- 1 small to medium sweet onion, peeled and chunked
- 2 - 15 oz. cans navy beans or white beans, drained, rinsed, drained
- 1 or 2 cans Trader Joe's baked beans in tomato sauce, not rinsed or drained
- 2 - 32 oz. Beef broth
- 1 package Trader Joe riced broccoli, optional
- Spices to desired taste, optional
- Spray the inside of your slow cooker if you like, but this soup should not stick if cooked on low. You can also use a slow cooker bag for easier cleanup.
- Add soup bone (minus any obvious chunks of fat) to the slow cooker. Add the onions, carrots, celery, drained beans, and Trader Joe Baked Beans with all of its liquid.
- Add beef broth and/or extra water to pretty much cover all the ingredients.
- Add any spices you might want to add and stir. Cover the crockpot and set for 8 hours. Stir intermittently if you think of it but you won't need to!
- Optional: Add riced broccoli (about 1/2 to 1 cup) to the mix when you start it. It does add a bit of a thickening agent to the soup - and also adds nutrition.
Add Your Ingredients in No Particular Order!
Broth Makes the Soup!
It may appear that there is too much broth if you add to cover the ingredients but remember that it will be cooking for 8 hours.
Check it from time to time if you are available but better to have too much broth than too little.
Dinner Is Served!
Remove the ham bone and chunk off the meat into the soup.
Serve with a salad and perhaps a roll on the side or even a nice crusty baguette to soak up all the broth.
You don't need a large bowl of this soup to feel satisfied. It is a great meal for a cold and blustery winter day—for lunch or dinner!
Ham Bone Soup With a Mexican Twist
Bones for Soup
You can purchase bones at the store for soup—usually of the beef variety. You can also save your own beef bones from a rib roast for example or a prime rib roast.
You can also save chicken or turkey bones but to me the easiest bone of all to make soup with is a nice, meaty ham bone with lots of ham still on the bone.
I either use the bone within the week that we have had our ham or I freeze it and then use it within a few weeks to get the maximum freshness out of the meat still on the bone.
Go Naturale with Beans Not in a Can
If you do not like the idea of using canned beans, you can always soak beans and use "real" beans and just presoak them.
To soak or cook beans the traditional or old-fashioned way:
- Wash and sort beans - remove any broken beans
- Cover with at least 2 inches of water.
- Add up to 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt per 1 pound of beans.
- Soak for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.
- Drain them and rinse before using.
You want beans at least pretty soon.
- Rinse desired amount of beans and sort - remove broken beans.
- Add to a pot of water—3 cups of water to 1 cup of beans.
- Bring the beans to a boil.
- Cook for 2 minutes.
- Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and let it hang sit for 1 hour.
- Drain, rinse, use.
Substitutions and Other Ideas
- If you have leftover ham, of course, throw in a bit more meat if you don't have enough off the bone.
- Substitute different kinds of beans.
- You don't have to use canned beans—see above.
- White kidney beans are a great choice.
- Cannellini beans are also very good.
- You can substitute sweet potatoes or a sweet squash such as butternut for the carrots for a great taste.
- Add spices to taste such as tarragon or a wee bit of thyme.
- I leave out salt altogether in this recipe as the ham has enough for anyone.
- Add a splash of juice for the broth such as mango—it pairs well with the ham.
- Tweak the recipe a bit for split peas—orange, yellow or green—but watch the expansion. May need more liquid.
- Use riced cauliflower instead of broccoli—similar to potatoes but without all the calories and another super food.
- Use chicken broth—with ham it is just a matter of taste.
- Add bay leaves for a subtle flavor boost.
© 2018 Audrey Kirchner
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 13, 2018:
Great recipe. Thanks for sharing. I might give it a try this winter.