This dish was made for dried beans! I chose to use small, white navy beans for this recipe, but you can choose whichever beans you prefer.
Because I used dried beans instead of a canned variety, I had to pre-soak the beans. I did this overnight in a bowl on my counter, changing the water several times. If you prefer to pre-soak your beans for a longer time, about 24 hours, the active cooking time in the slow cooker would be shorter than in the recipe below. Or, you may pre-cook your beans and then add them toward the end of the cooking time.
When you think your soup is done, just give it a stir and see if the beans are soft and the mixture is the consistency you prefer — we like our soups quite thick and "stew-ish" at my house so I cooked the recipe for a long time overnight. And, yes, the house smelled amazing in the morning. Yours will, too!
"Stew-ish" Ham and Navy Bean Soup
- 1 pound dried navy beans, pre-soaked overnight
- 2 cups chopped celery, plus celery leaves if you have them
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 ham bone
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 to 3 shakes of Tabasco sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups cubed ham (from leftovers or cut from a thick ham steak)
- Place the soaked beans in the bottom of the slow cooker crock. Top with chopped celery, onion and garlic.
- Add ham bone, pepper, smoked paprika, Tabasco and bay leaf. Pour in water.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 10 hours. Add the cubed ham, cover and continue cooking another 10 to 12 hours. You can judge when the soup is done by checking the beans' softness.
- When beans are cooked, remove and discard bay leaf. Then, carefully remove the ham bone from the pot. Place the ham bone on a cutting board and remove any edible meat from it. Chop or shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Stir the soup and serve.