One benefit to owning a VRBO type vacation home is that we get to take advantage of it ourselves from time to time. A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend as a family. I wish we could get there more often but work, kid activities, family obligations and all of the various other commitments prevent us from visiting as much as we’d like. This past weekend I was missing the cabin and figured the kind of comfort food I love to indulge in while we’re there would provide a quick fix.
So I pulled out the crockpot and whipped up some homemade ham and bean soup. It’s so easy to throw together and smells so good while it simmers all day. I don’t really use a recipe, it changes each time depending on what I’ve got on hand, but here’s a rough draft in case you want to give it a try…
I start with a leftover ham bone, preferably one with some meat still attached. Toss it in your crockpot and add as much water as you can fit. If you’re feeling extremely ambitious, go ahead and toss in some chopped up celery or onion. Or do like I did and just throw the top on. Set it to low and let it cook overnight. Your whole house will smell good while you’re sleeping, and you’ll probably dream of pork chops or bacon.
In the morning, strain the broth then add it back to the crockpot. Add a chopped onion or two, a few cups of pre-soaked beans and a handful of chopped carrots. Get creative with what you have on hand. Corn, celery, diced tomatoes… anything goes. Sometimes I sautee my onion, carrots and garlic in a little olive oil before I add it. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t.
Assuming you had a ham bone, you probably have some leftover ham. I cube a few cups and toss those in and add a twist or two of fresh ground salt and pepper. Maybe even a bay leaf or two. You can go nuts on the spices or keep it simple. Again, no rules, no pressure.
Now sit back, read a book on the couch, snuggle under the covers and watch a movie, or get out and about and do something fun with the family for the day. The beauty of slow cooking is that when you’re ready to eat, your homemade ham bone soup will be ready for you.
One last piece of advice… make sure you make a lot. This is one that freezes well and if you serve it with some warm cornbread even the kids may come back for seconds.
So there you have it… comfort food to get us through the last few weeks of winter. What’s your go-to slow cooker meal? I’d love to hear from you so I can add to my recipe book!