Life in a Northern Town

What Do You Do With The Ham Bone?

Monte's ham was the gift that just kept giving and giving and giving. Eventually, there's only so much ham a girl can eat, I froze the remaining meat and spent a couple of minutes contemplating the rather large ham bone sitting on my counter. Split pea soup was the first thought that came to mind but since I  find the texture of pea soup akin to mealy gruel, I needed another idea. When I make my Cuban black beans, I throw a little ham in for a subtle smoky (and porky) flavor. What if I added more broth to the Cuban beans and made it a soup? I had nothing to lose, there was a ham bone on my counter, black beans in the drawer and assorted vegetables in the refrigerator. Don't you love it when you come up with an entire meal from leftovers and ingredients you have lying around your kitchen? I felt thrifty and inventive— all at the same time.

Ham and Black Bean Soup

16 ounces dry black beans
2 quarts water bone from a large ham
2 red peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 poblano pepper, minced
2 chipotle peppers, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp dried oregano
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup dry white wine chicken or vegetable broth (preferably home-made or low sodium), enough to just cover the other ingredients
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preparation
The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad ones. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts of water. Remove the beans that float. Allow to soak overnight. Drain.

Place the ham bone in the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Add the soaked beans, all the peppers, onion, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic and white wine. Add broth, just enough to cover everything. Put on the lid and cook on high for about 6 to 7 hours or on low for 9 to 10 hours, until the beans are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the cilantro, stir and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, avocados and chopped green onions.