No-Peek Magic Bean & Ham Soup
I have just fallen in love all over again with my giant cast iron enameled Dutch oven. For the longest time, my slow cooker was my go to dinnertime savior for those crazy days that start when it’s dark and end when it’s dark. You know what I mean, right? We are up and out of the house by 7:20 AM, run to & fro all day long, and come dragging in at 6:30 PM, tired & hungry. Tired and hungry don’t quite cover our condition, HANGRY — we are all HANGRY.
All of that washes away when I am greeted with a savory aroma of home cooked goodness, like a giant hug when I walk through the door. Sure, a slow cooker can do the same thing, technically. But over the last few months, I have learned a dutch oven and the “No-Peek” method make the food taste SO MUCH BETTER.
The flavors are deeper, the sauce is thicker, the meat is more tender, the beans are cooked more perfectly. It is as if your very own personal chef has been slaving away while you were gone. I can’t really explain fully what magical things happen in the oven – you must try it for yourself!
“What is a No-Peek method?” you may be asking. It is a very simple way of slow cooking food at a semi-low temperature for an extended amount of time. The key is, once everything is in the Dutch oven – you must treat it like Noah’s Ark. Don’t open the lid until the cooking is complete. Get it?? Just like how God didn’t open the door of the ark until the storm was oven and the waters had dried up??
I have made a yummy No-Peek version of Merlot Infused Italian Sausage Ragu ((CLICK HERE to see the recipe)).
The No-Peek Turkey & Potato Chili Verde has been on menu repeat ever since the first time I made it!
This No-Peek Coconut Beef Curry was amaze-balls. I have never used that word before – whether in text or voice. I don’t think I will use it again. You are welcome.
Also, this traditional Davy Crockett Beef Stew was equally simple & delicious when made as a No-Peek stew.
I was nervous to try my No-Peek method on dried beans because they can be so tricky. Between the fact that they start hard as a rock, they absorb a lot of water in the cooking process AND salt can mess up the cooking process big time, there seems ((to me)) that there is plenty of room for error.
Cooking errors & worries are no hinderance for me – because I have a certain lack of care when it comes to cooking mess ups & mistakes. I don’t think there is such thing as a mess up. Every experience in cooking is just an opportunity to learn & improve. So if it doesn’t turn out, then I will have learned never to try it again. If I don’t try it – I will never know if I missed something great.
In this case, I would indeed have missed something great if I had not experimented. It was just great – really. Okay, I hear you!! now, you are asking yourself: “How good can ham & bean soup REALLY be??”. Right??
Well, believe me when I say ham & bean soup can be really, really good. Oh and, it is SUPER cheap to make. Cheap & easy are my love language. My love language used to be Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic — but I quit drinking ((which was so HARD to do BTW)) & I miss it so much. Oh well.
On with the show. I have made this ham & bean soup twice. The first time, I used a pre-mixed 10 bean blend. The second time, I used all of the miscellaneous remnants of dried beans, lentils and dried peas left cluttering my pantry. Decluttering at its finest!! Either way, 2 ½ cups of dried bean blend is a perfect amount.
In addition to the beans, you will need:
- crushed tomatoes
- chicken broth
- fresh Italian parsley
- 2 c diced ham ((I love honey or brown sugar glazed ham for this recipe. It adds a subtle sweetness that really makes the soup. However, any type of ham will work))
- ¼ to ½ of a sweet onion
- a few tablespoons of Italian dressing
- 2-3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes
- salt & pepper to taste
- optional: carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, celery, green chilies etc
Add all of the ingredients, and give it a stir.
Add some more water ((about 8 cups of water in addition to the chicken stock)).
I just filled the crushed tomato jar with water twice and called it good.
In the oven (at 300°) it went & 5 hours later – my house smelled happy!
We were gone all day, but thanks to the programmable delayed cook setting on my oven and this NO-Peek method – dinner was served as if I was home all day. On time and delicious! Yippee!!
- 2 1/2 c dried bean blend
- 2 c diced ham, diced
- 1 28 oz jar or can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 20 oz carton of chicken broth
- 1/2 sweet onion diced
- 1/2 c fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 T Dijon mustard, heaping
- 2-3 T sun-dried tomatoes
- 2-3 T Italian salad dressing
- 8 c water
- sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
- *Preheat oven to 300°. Place all ingredients in a large dutch oven & stir to combine. Cover and place in oven. Allow to cook without opening the oven or removing the lid for 5 hours.
- When cooking time is complete, remove from oven, season to taste, stir and serve.
- *Use the delay cooking seeing on your oven if necessary & place the covered Dutch oven in the oven.
- Optional additions: canned chopped green chilies, parsnips, carrots, oregano, chives, potatoes, celery etc.