This is a Ham Bone Soup made using the slow cooker which is the most effortless way to cook leftover ham bone. Set, forget, fall apart meat, flavour infused soup!
You’ll love the creamy broth (but no cream!), and how the tender beans absorb the flavour. Leave some of the ham tender and juicy, pan fry some to make it crispy. It’s the best of both worlds!
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 (yet 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 – but the extra steps are worth it:
Slow cook dried beans with aromatics and the ham bone – the ham bone flavours the water to create the soup broth, the ham meat becomes “fall apart tender” and the beans cook;
Pan fry shredded ham until golden. This little extra step you don’t usually see is 100% worth it because golden crispiness = more flavour and texture!
Make soup thickening base in the same pan by mixing milk with cornflour/cornstarch. This step also gets all that flavour from frying the ham bits stuck on the bottom of the skillet into the soup broth = even more flavour.
See? I promised this ham bone soup was a step above the usual! More and more incredible flavour in every step!!
Slow cook ham bone with dried beans
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.
Make soup thickening base & add vegetables
This is the step where we make a cornflour thickened “sludge” which is used to make the ham bone broth nice and creamy. I also like to get more vegetables into the soup by starting off by sautéing onion, carrots and celery.
And here’s what you end up with:
✅ Rich, creamy broth, fully loaded with incredible depth of flavour – and we’ve used no cream!
✅ Crispy ham bits – the crowning glory
✅ Creamy soft beans that have absorbed incredible flavour while slow cooking
✅ Plenty of vegetables so this is a great well rounded one-bowl meal
Now, I know beans are a starch so adding a side of bread for dunking might be considered carb overkill…. but who ever says no to soup dunkers??
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
Homemade Ham Broth:
- 1.2kg / 2.4lb leftover ham bone OR store bought ham hock / meaty bone (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 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 milk , any fat %
- 2 tsp Vegeta or other stock powder (Note 3)
- 60 g / 2 oz baby spinach (Note 4)
- 1/2 cup extra milk , any fat %
- 1/3 cup cornflour / cornstarch
- 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!
- 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!
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