Got a ham bone on leftover from the holidays? Lucky you. Put it to good use in this comforting slow-cooker soup. Made with a ham bone, dried white beans, chopped carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, chicken stock, and fresh thyme, this recipe takes minutes to assemble in a slow cooker. Then it simmers all day, producing a rich and flavorful soup with hardly any effort. For best results, choose a large, meaty ham bone. Near the end of cooking when the soup is done and the bone is cool enough to handle, remove any meat, shred it, and add it back to the soup. Ham bones freeze well, so save them in freezer bags throughout the year so you’ll have them on hand when you have a craving for soup. The recipe calls for dried Great Northern beans, but you could use any small dried beans you like. Navy beans or cannellini beans would work well in this soup; just test a bean for doneness at the end of the cook time to make sure they are tender. You will also want to cut the vegetables as uniformly as possible for even results. A pan of savory cornbread and a big, hearty salad are the perfect companions to this comforting and rich Southern-style recipe.
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 pound dried Great Northern beans, sorted of debris and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 large, meaty ham bone (about 4 lb.)
How to Make It
Stir together chicken stock, Great Northern beans, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place ham bone in the center of mixture; cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender, about 6 hours. Remove ham bone; let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone; discard fat, gristle, and bone. Shred meat, and stir into soup.
Be sure to cut the celery, carrots, and onion as uniformly as possible for the most even, tender results.