The thought of this soup simmering away in my friends’ Boston brownstone on a snowy winter day inspired me to gather the ingredients and get a version cooking out here in rainy California. The guidelines below are starting points, but a soup like this is very forgiving — have fun with it! The only essentials are getting the beans cooked and seasoned to your liking. Enjoy.
Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup
1 pound dry navy beans (approximately 2 cups); you need to soak these. You can choose from 2 methods, one overnight and one that takes about an hour before you can start the slow cooker cooking.
12 ounces bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch batons (I like Neiman Ranch applewood smoked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic mashed with 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1. Prepare the beans for soaking. Put the beans in a large bowl and rinse the beans under running water, filling the bowl and pouring off the water a few times. Fill “bean bowl” or stock pot with water once more, this will be your soaking water. Water should cover the beans by at least 3 or 4 inches. Remove any floaters.
Choose one of the following:
Set the bean bowl in the fridge overnight. The next day, dump the beans into a colander and discard the soaking liquid. Beans are ready to cook.
Put the beans into a large stockpot and fill the pot with water to cover the beans by 3 – 4 inches. Over medium high heat, boil the beans for 1 minute then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let beans sit for 1 hour.
2. Brown bacon in slow cooker insert on top of stove (or in a frying pan). Remove bacon to a plate, drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onions and garlic. Cook the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened.
3. Add the spices to the onions and stir with a wooden spoon. Move the slow cooker insert from stovetop to the slow cooker. Add the soaked beans, cooked bacon and 6 cups water (or enough to cover the beans by about 1 inch). Cook on “high” setting for 4 hours.
4. Taste soup for seasoning, adding sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and/or olive oil, for serving, if you wish.
Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips
- Instead of slow cooking, you can simmer this soup on the stovetop for a couple hours.
- Substitute your favorite adobo seasoning mix for the oregano, cumin, chipotle and garlic powder — I haven’t tried it, but would guess 3 teaspoons would be a good start for the amount.
- If you prefer a smooth texture for the soup, puree all or part of the beans using an immersion blender, or carefully transfer some of the cooled soup to a regular blender.
- Leftover transformation #1: Serve the beans under a piece of grilled fish or meat. Add some sauteed greens and you have a completely different meal.
- Leftover transformation #2: Add a can of chopped organic tomatoes (14.5 oz.) to some the leftover bean soup. Simmer on the stovetop to combine flavors.