Sunday, October 4, 2015

Easy Bean Soup

Growing up in West Virginia, everything had meat in it.  Green beans for a side:  put ham in for flavor.  Pancakes:  use a little bacon grease to oil up your skillet.  Vegetable soup:  add cubes of beef.  So, it's no wonder that as an adult vegetarian I try recreate these home cooked country style dished without meat.  The easiest has to be bean soup.  Traditionally, bean soup has at least a ham hock or bits of bacon in it.  But I discovered a way to "cheat" and make a bean soup that keeps that same flavor.  It really is a cheat because I use a bean soup mix that happens to have a "ham flavor" packet included that is accidentally vegetarian!  Several companies make this bean soup mix.  I just use whatever is at the store and check the ingredients list.  Throw it in a crockpot with a little salt, pepper and liquid smoke (for that extra ham-y flavor).  EASY!  Here's the low-down:

2 bags bean soup mix (get the ones with ham flavor packets included)
salt and pepper to taste
liquid smoke to taste (I generally use about a teaspoon)

Add bean soup mix, ham flavor packets, salt, pepper and liquid smoke to 5 quart crockpot.  Add water so that beans are covered with at least 3 inches of water (I fill up the crockpot almost to the top, leaving head room for the beans to expand).  Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours.  Using a blender or food processor, puree about 1/3 of the soup and add back to crockpot (this gives it that creamy, thick bean soup texture).  Cook on low for 1 to 2 hours.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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