When its cold outside, Im sick or just feeling blue, I turn to comfort foods to help lift my spirits. This is a dish that I grew up eating and swore once I left home to start my own life that Id never eat again. Well, as I get older, I now crave this and make it about once a month. My mother finds this fact hilarious!
Originally, I learned how to make soup beans from my granma who was a true southern cook with her butter, lard and iron skillets. Ive taken the liberty of changing it just a bit to make it better fit my busy life style.Ingredients
½ pound dried pinto beans
1 package smoked ham hocks
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Salt to tasteThis recipe serves 4!Step 1
Pre soak the beans by sorting them (i.e. picking out the off color beans or the occasional stone that slips in) and placing them in a large pot. Add water until the beans are covered by at least 2 inches. Bring to a full boil. Turn off the heat. Cover and allow the beans to soak for one hour.
Now my granma always preferred the overnight soak but for me, I can never remember to do so the night before. She also claimed that the beans taste better this way than with the quick soak but I respectfully disagree. Step 2
Dice the onion and mince the garlic adding it to your crock pot. Size of dice does not matter but I dice finely so that my kids are less likely to notice them in their dish. Step 3
Add 2-3 ham hocks to the crock pot.
About ham hocks, these are a southern specialty and show up in lots of recipes. They are the portion of the pigs leg between its foot and the meatier shank (i.e. shin). This part is quite often brined and then smoked. You can find ham hocks in the fresh meats section of your grocery store usually with the hams.
Dont want to use ham hocks?
You can substitute a ham bone (frozen or thawed) left over from a holiday celebration or even just diced smoked ham with no bone at all. Either way, this is a great use of leftovers!Step 4
Pour soak water off of the beans. Add beans to the crock pot. Cover beans and ham hocks with water, normally about 8 cups.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or 4-6 on high. An hour before serving, taste and add salt. Adding salt any earlier could result in an inedible dish because the full flavor from the hocks has not been released!
Remove ham hocks before serving. If you are so inclined, you can remove the bits of ham from the hocks to add back to the beans but be forewarned! This is not for the squeamish!
Serve with corn bread or over rice.
I have known people to add diced tomatoes and even small amounts of chopped jalapenos to this dish so dont be afraid to experiment!
Also, some people add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to help cut down on the beans gassy after effects.