It's May and I want to dream about picnics and cooking outdoors. We thought summer was well on it's way when temperatures climbed into the 80s a couple weeks ago, then we were startled with the cold front that came through yesterday bringing lots of rain and dropping temperatures back into the 40s. Everything is damp and the chill in the air makes for perfect soup weather, especially if it's a little spicy like this one I warmed up for lunch. It tastes great with a slice of cornbread on the side or crumbled in the bowl, and makes me feel all warm inside. I needed that pick-me-up as I watched a river run through our backyard, cutting a swath in the garden. At least it wasn't in the house! Maybe the mud pit will dry out enough that we can finish planting this weekend.
I like to make this black bean soup in the slow cooker because it is so easy for a busy day, or even for overnight. The ham bone goes in for lots of flavor, but if you want a vegan option then skip the bone and use a rich homemade vegetable stock instead of water. Also, if you add the salt late rather than the beginning of the cooking process, the beans will be more tender, so hold that salt!
I almost forgot! Susan of Food Blogga is hosting a great event in honor of National Osteoporosis Awareness Month called "Beautiful Bones," promoting calcium-rich foods that fight osteoporosis. My soup has calcium-rich black beans, tomatoes, and black pepper. If green or spicy peppers were rich in calcium this would be even better! Make sure you visit her blog for the round up in early June.
Vegan: Omit the ham bone and use a rich vegetable stock instead of water.
Crisper peppers: The peppers and onions will be very soft after a long cooking time. If you prefer a bit more snap in your soup, hold them until the last hour or so of cooking.
[Updated January 22, 2014.]
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Five Peppers and Ham
- 6 quart pot
- 6-quart slow cooker
- 16 ounces dry black beans (rinsed)
- 2 quarts water
- bone from a large ham
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (minced)
- 1 anaheim pepper (minced)
- 2 chipotle peppers (minced)
- 1 red onion (finely chopped)
- 2 large tomatoes (cut into chunks (or a 15-ounce/434 g can of diced tomatoes with the juice))
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- water (enough to just cover the other ingredients)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad ones. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts of water. Remove the beans that float. Allow to soak overnight. Drain.
- Place the ham bone in the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Add the soaked beans, all the peppers, onion, tomatoes, chili powder, and garlic. Add water, just enough to cover everything. Put on the lid and cook on high for about 6 to 7 hours or on low for 9 to 10 hours, until the beans are tender.
- About 1 hour before serving, add the salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir and put the lid back on.
- Turn off the heat and ladle into bowls. Serve with cornbread.