Ham, Bean & Vegetable Soup in the Slow Cooker

It's ham season! You know, it's the time of the year where every grocery store has super duper cheap hams.  Well, we stock up and end up eating a LOT of ham.  That isn't unusual as my family eats a lot of ham.  All year long.  It's pretty much a staple in our refrigerator.  So you can see why ham season excites me so much.
We all know about my love for beans so I was excited when I found this 15 bean soup mix.  I didn't even think to snap a picture while the beans were still inside. I did not use the ham flavor packet though, for some reason, it seemed kinda creepy.  Plus, I had plenty of ham flavor with my ham broth. 

I started out throwing 2 small ham hocks into the crockpot before bed. I let it soak all night and woke up to a delicious pot of ham broth and some super tender ham that fell right off the bone. 
The next morning I chopped it all up and saved the ham broth.  I put in about 2 quarts of the ham broths back in the crockpot and started the soup. 

I posted a ham and bean soup before that was mainly just ham and beans. Nothing wrong with that, it was good.  Very good actually.  This time, I wanted more veggies.  I wanted it to be thick and hearty.  So I added a bunch of veggies and it turned out fantastic.  Some of the small beans disappeared into the broth and the sweet potato basically disappeared as well. I loved this though because it made the broth super thick and it tasted amazing! 

There still were plenty of chunks and it was amazingly filling.  One bowl fills you right up.  I have many hams left in the freezer so there will be many soups to be made this winter.  I plan to make this one again and again.  I don't think I would change a thing.
What will you be doing with your leftover ham bones?   

Ham, Bean & Vegetable Soup in the Slow Cooker

Ham Hock (I had 2 small ones actually)

3 cups leftover ham
2 quarts of ham broth (I used a bit less than 2 quarts)
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 bag of dried beans - I used 15 bean mix
2 - 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, with juice
Salt and lots of pepper, to taste

Enjoy your ham dinner.  While cleaning up after, take your leftover ham hock and throw it into your large slow cooker and fill with water.  Leave it in there overnight on low.  The next morning, strain the solids from the liquid.  KEEP THE HAM BROTH.  DO NOT DISCARD.  Pull any good meat off the ham bones and just toss the fat and the bones. 

Rinse your beans in a strainer and throw into the now empty crockpot. Add just shy of 2 quarts of ham broth. You can add more later if you want (or if there is room).  Turn crockpot on high and let beans cook a bit. 

Chop up all your onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  I cooked my veggies briefly on the stove but I don't think I needed to do that, I think they would have cooked just fine if I had just thrown them into the crockpot.  Add about 3 cups of leftover ham to the crockpot as well.

Wait a few hours before adding the potatoes or they just might turn to mush. Here is what I did. I had my beans and first veggies in the crockpot at about 10 am.  I left it on high until 1 and then added my potatoes.  I then turned it to low and cooked it until about 5 pm.  Everything was soft, mushy and delicious!!! 

**Keep your ham broth so you can use it in future meals. You can put some in rice. I made some baked beans and used some ham broth. You can also use it in replacement for chicken broth in casseroles for a different flavor. 

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