Inspiration: I rave about the benefits of our meat CSA all of the time, but one of the great things about it is that every now and then, it opens us up to some new and interesting foods. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the store and picked out a pork hock, but when we were given one in our CSA share, we had to make good use of it. I stumbled upon an awesome bag containing a mixture of 15 beans from a local farm while I was grocery shopping recently, and it happened to have a ham and bean soup recipe on the back. Perfect for adapting for our pork hock!
What we Loved: Since we had never cooked with pork hocks before, B and I were both very skeptical at first, but it really turned out that the pork hock was the key ingredient to this soup. The main flavor of the soup came from the broth, which was wonderfully rich and smoky with a great pork/ham taste. And after 10+ hours in the crockpot, the meat completely fell off of the bone. It was so easy to cut off the fat/tough parts and shred the rest for the soup. With plenty of salt for added flavor and the great creamy texture of all of the different kinds of beans, there sure was a whole lot going on with just a few ingredients. Brandon and I would both list this as one of our favorite soups that we’ve ever made.
Helpful Hints: Make sure to add plenty of salt (taste testing as you go) when the soup is done cooking, as it really does enrich all of the other flavors in the pot a lot. And I’m sure that this soup would be good with any kind of beans you prefer – there’s no need for a 15 bean mix if you can’t find one. But I thought that it was really awesome to use such a varied mix with such an awesome nutritional profile! (If you’re interested or want to pick and choose some beans to use for this recipe, our bag of beans contained: yellow eye beans, cranberry beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, yellow peas, green peas, blackeye peas, red lentils, green lentils, baby limas, and Christmas limas).
Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup
Source: Adapted from Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s (Howard City, MI) recipe for “Mom’s Favorite Soup”
24 oz mixed beans (I used a bag of Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s Bean Appetite Souper Mix)
Oil or butter
2 cups onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock
1 smoked pork hock
Kosher salt and black pepper
1. Soak the beans covered in water overnight, then drain and rinse.
2. Heat a bit of oil or a pat of butter in a pot (I use the stovetop-safe removeable insert of my crockpot) over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until softened and lightly browned. Mix in the garlic and the cumin, cooking for an additional 30 seconds.
3. Add the chicken stock and beans, and bring to a boil.
4. If using a stovetop-safe crock pot insert, remove the insert from the stove and place it back in the crock pot. Otherwise, transfer the mixture to your crock pot. Add the pork hock and cook on low for 10-12 hours.
5. Remove the pork hock. The meat should fall from the bones. Remove any fat/tough parts, and then shred the rest and return it to the pot.
6. Season the soup well with salt and pepper. Makes 12 cups.