Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

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I’m so excited! I was actually able to use the ham bone that was left over from our Christmas ham this past year. I always have great intentions of using the ham bone, but always seem to be busy with post-holiday stuff at the time it makes itself available to me. So, I wrap it up ever so carefully and put it in the freezer, confident I will make some sort of delicious soup or stew. Well, of course, I sort of forget it is in there until we have an extended power outage and I’m sitting on the floor performing triage on all of my rapidly melting frozen goodies. (Falls Church seems to lose power all of the time! I grew up way out in the country, on a little island and I used to think we lost power there a lot. HAH! Falls Church definitely takes the cake in that department!) At that moment, the old Christmas ham bone does not warrant a place in the Coleman cooler. So it is either flung into the trash or it is given to a very lucky fox who goes running about the neighborhood with it like he won the lottery. This year, my refrigerator outsmarted me and promptly died a couple of days past Christmas. Quite considerate when you think it could have just given up the ghost right before our big Holiday meal. So there was no freezing of the ham bone, oh no. I had to act right away! Luckily I had just received a slow cooker. I took a quick peek online and found a great recipe, which I did adapt a bit. I just popped all of the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and didn’t think about it again until it was dinner time. Well, that’s not really true. Since it was my maiden voyage with a slow cooker I was looking at it constantly, but next time I’m sure I will pay it no mind and just let it do its thing. I’m happy to report that the soup was a huge success. We’ve eaten it simply ladled into bowls as well as over rice,  though always sprinkled with gooey melted cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro with a hunk of cornbread, slathered in butter on the side. Delicious!  Nice and spicy. It will really warm you up on a damp and rainy day. I’m very pleased with it and I’m not really that much of a “bean person”. My husband LOVES beans. All of them. Even those lima beans, which he calls “butter beans”, which I call “chalk beans”. Boo! You won’t catch me making any kind of lima bean concoction any time soon. But these black beans are winners. And let me tell you, my husband is in bean heaven! Tonight, for this recipe’s next incarnation, I’m thinking I’m going to mix some rice in with it to thicken it up a bit, roll it up in some tortillas and serve them smothered with cheese, guacamole, salsa and a bit of chopped lettuce and tomatoes. (This recipe does make a whole heck of a lot of soup, so if it’s just two of you, you might need to get a bit creative with how you present it…) All in all a big win! Yay ham bone & yay slow cooker!

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Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

recipe adapted from: andreasrecipes.com

yield: approximately 10-12 servings (a whole mess of soup!)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces dry black beans
  • 2 quarts water
  • bone from a large ham
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground Chipotle pepper
  • water, enough to cover all of the ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • cheese and more cilantro to garnish

Instructions:

The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad beans or other debris. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts water. Remove the beans that float. Soak beans overnight.

Place the ham bone in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker pot. Add the drained soaked beans, the peppers onion, tomatoes (with liquid) chili powder, garlic and spices. Add enough water to the pot to cover everything. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 6-7 hours, until the beans are tender.

About 1 hour before serving, add the salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Place the lid back.

Just prior to serving, remove the ham bone. If any meat is still clinging to it, remove it and add it back to the soup. Ladle it into bowls or serve over rice, garnished with cheddar cheese and additional fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

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