Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lessons Learned

So we've already had our first winter storm here in West Texas.  It's been rather cold, so what better thing to have for dinner than a nice hearty soup.  This is Spicy Tex-Mex Bean & Ham Soup.  I used up leftover ham from Thanksgiving, and I cooked this soup in the crockpot.  I love coming home after work and dinner is ready!  Makes life so easy.

There's only one way to learn some things, and that's just to jump right in and try it.  I have never cooked a dish with rice in the crockpot, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  When I do crockpot recipes, I usually prep all the ingredients the day before so I can just throw it all in the crockpot before work. Well, I went ahead and threw the rice in there.  Sure, sounds like a great idea.  But it didn't work out so well.  The soup tasted fantastic, but it was thicker than I wanted and the rice seemed to have dissolved.  Ha ha.  My husband raved on and on about how much he loved this soup.  We made a pan of cornbread and we were warmed up and our bellies were full.  Enjoy!

1 lb bag 15-bean mix
3-4 C cooked ham, cubed (a ham steak will work)
9-11 C chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic minced
4-6 jalapenos, chopped
1 red (or orange) bell pepper, chopped
1/4 C lime juice
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Goya ham seasoning packets
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
2 T cumin
2 T chili powder

1/2 C cilantro
2 C cooked rice
Salt & pepper, to taste
Diced tomatoes, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Sliced avocados, for serving

NOTES:  If you want a thicker stew-like soup like my picture above, go ahead and put the rice in with everything else. Otherwise you may want to stir cooked rice in at the end or later in the cook time.  The Goya ham seasoning packets are typically found on the international aisle of the grocery store. The Walmart near my house has a section with Goya products near the bulk section.  If you can't find it, it's okay. Just make sure you add enough salt.  I used 4 jalapenos in my soup and we found that it wasn't spicy enough.  But it's your soup, so use as many or as little as you like.  Lastly, I started my soup with 8 C chicken stock.  When I got home at 4:15, I found that I needed 3 C more chicken stock.  I'm not sure if it's because of the rice or if the beans absorbed too much stock.  Check it at 6 hours and decide if you need more liquid in it.

Put all of the "for the soup" ingredients into a crockpot, including the seasoning packet from the beans (if it came with one).  (See note about the rice above.)  Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the beans are soft.  Check your liquid at about 6 hours to see if you need more stock.  When it's done, stir in the cilantro and the cooked rice.  Serve the soup with the diced tomatoes, sour cream, and avocado slices.