Cook beans in the slow cooker or use canned beans for this Slow Cooker Bean Soup with Ham, Spinach, and Thyme.
Want to know one of my favorite tricks for increasing the nutritional value of most any kind of soup? Add some greens! Dark leafy greens are the the most nutritious foods per calorie of all the world's healthiest foods, and the flavor of leafy greens goes with so many other foods. This Slow Cooker Bean Soup with Ham, Spinach and Thyme started with leftover ham from Thanksgiving and dried beans in the pantry. Once I had the idea in mind, all I needed was a package of baby spinach and by the end of the day I had this delicious soup.
I took some of the soup to my brother Mark and his wife Lisa, since they're the ones who brought the ham for Thanksgiving. A few days later Mark texted me to say the healthy bean soup was a winner. If you're not big on spinach, I think Kale or Swiss Chard would also be delicious in this soup.
Cooking your own dried beans is really the most flavorful option for this type of soup, but it's December and if you want to use white beans from a can, you definitely won't get any judgement from me. (I cooked two pounds of beans, then froze half of them and used half in the soup. And if you look closely you can see that I got distracted and my beans got a little overdone, but luckily that doesn't matter for soup.) Here's How to Cook Dried Beans in a CrockPot if you haven't done it.
If you're cooking beans from scratch, once the beans are done put about 6 cups of cooked beans (4 cans) into a large slow cooker with 6 cups ham or chicken stock. (I had some ham juice from the bottom of the slow cooker we cooked the ham in, but if I have to use chicken stock for soups with ham, I like to add a little Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate to flavor the soup.) Cook the beans, onions, dried thyme, and stock about 2 hours on high. Then add the chopped ham and cook about 2 hours more.
When the soup has cooked several hours and all ingredients are starting to taste good together, chop 5 oz. baby spinach and add to the soup. Cook 30-45 minutes more. (I like the greens fairly well done.)
(Makes about 8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn when she had beans in the pantry and leftover ham from Thanksgiving.)
I made this soup in my 6 quart Ninja Cooker. If you only have a smaller slow cooker, the recipe could certainly be cut in half.
6 cups cooked white beans (about 1 lb. dried beans, cooked, or 4 cans beans, 15 oz. size can)
6 cups ham stock or chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. dried thyme
2-3 cups cooked ham, coarsely chopped
1-2 packets Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate (optional)
5 oz. package baby spinach
fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste (remember ham is salty; this doesn't need much salt)
If you're starting with dried beans and cooking them in the slow cooker, you might want to read How to Cook Dried Beans in a CrockPot. (Soaking beans overnight will slightly shorten the cooking time, but they can also be cooked without soaking.)
Put 1 lb. dried white beans in a colander, rinse the beans and pick through to be sure there are no stones or broken pieces. Put beans into the slow cooker with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Cook beans on HIGH until they're soft, about 3-4 hours for soaked beans or 5-6 hours for unsoaked beans. (Cooking time will be determined largely by how fresh the beans are, so older beans take longer to cook and fresher ones will cook a little more quickly.) Drain beans and discard the cooking water.
Put cooked beans, ham or chicken stock, chopped onion, and dried thyme into the slow cooker and cook on HIGH about 2 hours.
After 2 hours coarsely chop the ham and add to the slow cooker (with a little Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate if desired.) Cook on HIGH about 2 hours more.
Chop the spinach and add to the soup. Cook on high 30-45 minutes more. Season soup to taste with fresh-ground black pepper and salt. (Remember ham is salty so you won't need much salt.) Serve hot.
This freezes well, and you'll be glad you have some to pull out of the freezer when you get home late on a cold night.
South Beach/Low-Carb Suggestions:
Dried beans are considered a "good carb" for the South Beach Diet, and they're permitted for all phases. However, for Phase One dried beans are limited to 1/2 - 2/3 cup serving size, so have just a small bowl of this soup if you're doing Phase One. For other types of low-carb eating plans, I would probably make the soup with more ham and greens and less beans. (Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan.)
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn's Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I'm sharing there.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
Ten More Delicious Beans Soups with Greens
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Shaved Parmesan ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Peppery Sausage White Bean Kale Soup ~ Boulder Locavore
Chickpea (garbanzo bean) Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Kale and White Bean Soup ~ The Corner Kitchen
White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, and Chard ~ Simply Recipes
Italian Sausage and Bean Soup with Chard ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
White Bean, Kale, and Italian Sausage Soup ~ Bev Cooks
Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry Vinegar ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Italian Black Bean, Sausage, and Spinach Soup ~ Barefeet in the Kitchen
More Slow Cooker Soups You Might Like:
(Visit the Recipes-by-Photo Page for Soups and Stews to see all the from-scratch slow cooker soups from other blogs I've featured on my slow cooker site.)
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