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Pimp My Ham and White Bean Soup

I"m home sick today and trying to throw something easy and really comforting, yet wonderful, together in the crock pot. It's nasty and rainy out, which makes soup sound even better.

So far, I've got a ham hock in the crock pot and a pound of white beans boiled and soaking for an hour. I was planning to saute onion and carrots and garlic, throw that in the crockpot with the beans and some broth and herbs..oregano? and see where it all ends up. I'd love to hear any exciting suggestions you might have, though. Vinegar? Sherry? Kale? Spinach? Puree part of it? I've done a lot of bleary-eyed, toddler-assisted googling, but nothing looks fabulous.

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  1. Ooo! What a fun game! I would do a few things that you mentioned: kale sounds like wonderful addition, as would a bit of bean puree (puree part). Sherry or vinegar might be OK, but if it were me, I'd skip it for this soup. You could add some mushrooms or... you did say pimp your soup... add some truffle oil when you serve it.

    As for herbs I love thyme in just about everything...

    7 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Interesting. I have a version in one of my crockpot cookbooks; the addition of mashed potatoes is fascinating. Have you tried the recipe?

        1. re: girlwonder88

          Yes I have and it is very hearty and satisfying for me. The first time I tried it was back when Bob Dole was running for President and I read an article where he stated he had it every day for lunch for something like 30 years or his entire political career whenever he was in the Capitol. I remember thinking that had to be some very good soup to enjoy it so much......so I had to make it exactly to the letter.

          BTW......I recommend smashing half the beans for a creamy texture.

          1. re: fourunder

            For some reason I'm thinking rosemary, unless the ham is smoked.

      2. re: HaagenDazs

        Definitely thyme! And man, wish I had some truffle oil...but alas (and definitely no grocery store run in the cards for me today). I may have dried porcini, though...

        1. re: girlwonder88

          A recipe I've used in the past has some thinly sliced napa cabbage thrown in towards the end of the cooking, and a decent splash of sherry vinegar. I'd go wth pureeing part of the soup as suggested by HaagenDazs

          1. re: girlwonder88

            Yeah - not too may people (myself included) happen to have good truffle oil lying around. The porcini would be good, but soak them first and rub them a bit after they've been soaking to make sure there's no sand in them. Also, use the soaking liquid, but based on the sand comment, don't use the last teaspoon or so. Nothing like sandy soup!

        2. A little bit of sherry sounds good. I'd definitelly go for kale in the veggie dept.

          1. Girl: Agree with thyme and sauteed celery. Maybe a bay leaf or two. The ham hock should bring great flavor to the soup. In addition to the sauteed garlic, maybe throw in a couple of peeled-but-whole garlic cloves -- they'll additionally flavor the soup and you can eat the poached cloves. Might not help with your cold or flu or whatever you have, but can't hurt.

            1. Chop up a fennel bulb to replace some of the onions you might use.

              1. Mustard or honey mustard for piquancy.

                1. I always add the juice of a lemon toward the end of cooking to really bring the flavor up -- except black bean soup where I use lime juice instead.

                  1. So, I didn't do anything too exciting this time, but have lots of ideas for next time. I added carrot, no celery as I was unexpectedly out. Onion (though I love the fennel idea and might try that night time), some chopped limp chard and chopped spinach (both added at the end). Pureed part of it just to thicken it. Added a spoonful of dry sherry to each bowl.
                    I was going to add mashed potato, as per the senate recipe, but ran out of crockpot room.

                    I wonder about that senate recipe, being made with water instead of broth, as mine was really, really bland until I added the "better than bouillion" to the pot. I did only have one ham hock, not two, so that would make a difference.

                    The sherry was a good addition, but I think something more piquant would've been better...wish I'd read the mustard or lemon juice ideas.

                    On the other hand, my husband loved this and thought he'd died and gone to heaven (especially since we also had frito chili last weekend). Sometimes, I get a little too fancy for his taste, I think.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: girlwonder88

                      If you google the recipe for the Senate Bean Soup you will find a umber of reviews that say it's pretty awful, which is what I'd expect with just water. Taste preferences vary, but I'd never make a vegetable-based soup without a meat/poultry/or seafood-based stock/broth. The onion should go in at the beginning, along with the bone. Sherry should go into the pot, not the bowl, so the alcohol is sure to evaporate and there's no chance of boozy taste.

                    2. Another vote for thyme with white beans, always a very homey combination :)
                      With soups like this I tend to keep the soup simple (just make sure there's the right amount of salt so it's simple rather than boring!) and just dress it up on serving with whatever else is on hand to round it out: a small drizzle of excellent olive oil, a poached egg, freshly ground pepper, a sprinkle of parmesan, some nice crusty bread, a split grilled sausage, etc.