With a creamy no-cream broth and crispy golden bits of ham, this is not your usual Ham Bone Soup!
If you’ve got a leftover ham bone, this soup will cost a pittance to make. It’s thick and hearty, loaded with tender beans and a surprising amount of vegetables. And the soup broth is full of real flavour that money can’t buy!!
Leftover Ham Bone Soup!
Ham bones are highly coveted in my circle . Each year, I gather as many as I can and stash them in my deep freezer.
The Christmas just gone, I went one step further and gifted several Glazed Hams under the guise of being a thoughtful friend.
In truth, those gifts came with the condition that I get the ham bone!! I’m completely shameless.
So hopefully, some of you stashed away your leftover ham bone in the freezer, just waiting for the right time to use it. For those that didn’t, don’t worry – this can be made with a store bought ham bone! (Here’s a photo comparison of store bought and leftover ham)
Not your usual ham bone soup
You’re probably used to seeing ham bone soups with a clear broth or sometimes, a tomato based broth. I really tried to get excited about those versions (and maybe it’s something that comes with maturity? ) but I just wanted something more.
This creamy cream-less Ham Bone Soup with crispy golden ham bits is my idea of different.
The leftover ham bone
Here’s one of the ham bones that boomeranged back to me after gifting it. My friend was kind enough to leave plenty of ham on it. It weighed 1.1 kg / 2.2lb.
But if yours has been picked clean, don’t worry! You’ll still extract plenty of flavour from the bone and non-edible parts of the ham. Just purchase some extra ham meat to toss into the soup – or bulk up on more veggies instead!
How to make this creamy Ham Bone Soup
This Ham Bone Soup has a few more steps than those “chuck it all in the slow cooker” soups – and I promise it’s worth it:
- Ham Bone Broth & Fall Apart Ham – Slow cook the ham bone with carrot, celery and garlic PLUS dried beans (no soaking required). The beans cook in the same time as it takes for the meat to fall off the ham bone which is nice and convenient.
- If your ham bone is too big for your slow cooker, just take it to your butcher and ask them nicely to cut it in half for you. Or – dig out your saw! (Really)
- Beans – I have used dried great northern and cannelloni beans in this recipe. I haven’t tried navy beans but they should work well as they slow cook in the same time. This recipe really works best with dried beans because a) they soak up flavour as they cook; and b) they absorb some of the considerable amount of liquid required to mostly submerge the ham.
- Shred ham, pan fry half until golden – because golden crispiness equals more flavour and great texture!
The carrot and celery that was used to flavour the ham broth is pretty soft after 8 hours of slow cooking but in the spirit of this leftover recipe, I like to chop it up and throw it back into the soup.
Next steps, bringing it all together (numbers reference images below).
1. Saute onion, celery and carrots in same pan, soaking up all the leftover ham flavour!
2. Make the soup thickener by adding milk and cornflour/cornstarch into the pan. It will look thoroughly unappetising – like sludge* actually. Once the sludge* is mixed into the ham bone broth, it only requires a further 30 minutes in the slow cooker to thicken the soup broth.
Whereas if you mix cornflour into the whole soup broth, it can take 1 hour for the broth to thicken. After slow cooking the ham bone all day, I want my dinner on the table stat!
3. This step is the sludge* being scraped into the slow cooker, referred to above.
4. Add the ham (I hold back a bit to garnish the soup), the carrot and celery from the broth (see above); then
5. Add a bit of Vegeta or some kind of stock powder. Just something to give the broth a little flavour boost. This is a very big pot of soup and it’s a tall order to ask one ham bone to provide all the flavour. It needs a helping hand.
6. Add greens, thicken soup – I also like to add in a few handfuls of spinach just to get more greens into this soup. It wilts in the time it takes for the broth to thicken and come together which is perfect!
7. Slow cook 30 minutes on low (or about 20 minutes on high). Doesn’t need long – just long enough to bring the broth back up to heat which will activate the sludge* and thicken the broth.
* Sorry, I know the repeated use of this word is totally off putting, can’t think of a better word right now.
That’s a whole lot of writing for what is actually a fairly relaxing soup to make!
The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it in stages. I made it a few times after Christmas 2018 and kept getting distracted mid-cook by important things like meeting friends at the beach, urgent Yum Cha outings etc.
So other than stopping midway through the slow cooking of the ham bone, you can pretty much stop at any point in this recipe, then take it up again when it suits.
End result was always just as good!! ~ Nagi x
PS The other truly great use of leftover ham bone – Chinese Ham Bone Congee. 3 Ingredient magic!
Slow Cooker Ham Bone Soup
Watch How to Make It
Slow Cooker Ham Bone Soup with Beans
Recipe video above. Not your usual leftover ham bone soup! This one is cream (but no cream!) with crispy golden ham bits. You won’t miss cream in this – the ham bone makes the broth rich. This makes a BIG pot so you can enjoy this for days!
Homemade Ham Broth:
- 1 leftover ham bone ( OR store bought ham hock / meaty bone (~1.2kg/2.4lb) (Note 1))
- 2 carrots (, peeled cut into 3 chunks)
- 1 celery stalk (, cut into chunks)
- 2 garlic cloves (, minced)
- 3 sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1.5 – 2 cups (285 – 380g) dried white beans (, no need to soak (Note 2))
- 2 litres / 2 quarts water ((8 cups))
Ham Bone Soup:
- 2 tbsp (30g) butter or oil
- 1 onion (, chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (, minced)
- 3 celery ribs (, chopped)
- 2 carrots (, chopped)
- 2 cups (500ml) milk, any fat %
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) Extra Milk
- 1/3 cup (50g) cornflour / cornstarch
- 2 tsp Vegeta or other stock powder ((Note 3))
- 60 g / 2 oz baby spinach ((Note 4))
- Place the Ham Broth ingredients in the slow cooker. Slow cook for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.
- Remove ham bone. Shred meat and discard bone. Return half the ham to the slow cooker (remainder is pan fried).
- Discard thyme sprig.
Remove then chop carrot and celery, return to slow cooker.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add half the ham and cook until golden and crispy.
- Transfer most to slow cooker – hold back a few for garnish.
In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add onion and garlic, cook 1 minute.
Add celery and carrot, cook for 3 minutes until soft.
- Add 2 cups milk, stir.
- Mix cornflour and Extra Milk. While stirring, pour into skillet. Mixture will thicken quickly.
- Once very thick and paste-like, scrape into slow cooker.
- Add Vegeta into slow cooker. Stir to dissolve paste.
- Add spinach, push down into liquid.
- Slow cook 30 minutes on low or 20 minutes on high until spinach is wilted and broth is heated and slightly thickened.
- Serve garnished with crispy ham and a sprinkle of parsley, if desired!
1. Leftover Ham Bone – If your ham is looking a bit skimpy, you might want to buy some ham to dice up and throw into the soup. If the bone won’t fit into your slow cooker, try break the knuckles with your hands or take it to your friendly butcher to cut in half (or dig out your saw). Can also use store bought ham bone / hock.
2. White beans – More beans = chunkier soup. Great northern, cannellini, navy. No need to soak because we’re using the slow cooker. Canned beans will also work but dried is better. Stir drained canned into the soup with the ham. May need extra cornflour to thicken broth (as dried beans soak up liquid)
3. Vegeta is a type of stock powder sold in supermarkets. Vegetable or chicken stock powders will also work nicely here, or crumble in a bouillon cube.
4. Greens – about 2 to 3 handfuls. Or use chopped normal spinach, silverbeet or kale.
– Soup colour will differ depending on your ham bone. More skin (leathery brown stuff) = browner broth (and more flavour) = off white soup. Less skin = whiter soup.
– Soup is not intended to be a really thick soup as I find it makes it too heavy (it’s quite rich). But if you want a thicker broth, simply add more cornflour/cornstarch mixed with equal amount of water/milk – add a bit at a time, as soup heats it will thicken.
6. Storage – store in fridge for 3 to 4 days. If you freeze, cornflour will lose it’s thickening power so you’ll need to add more when reheating to re-thicken soup (see Note 5). Works perfectly, I tried it.
7. Nutrition is a guide only. It’s virtually impossible for a non-scientist to calculate the nutrition in the ham bone broth, I’ve done my best!
Life of Dozer
This morning. Life life to the max!!