Many slow cooker recipes are bait-and-switch. The dream is to fill a slow cooker with ingredients, turn it on, and hours later have a delicious meal. But so often you have to brown this and sauté that before you begin. Not so with this recipe.
The idea for this soup came from an incredible meal we had at Trattoria Sbandati here in Bend. We were there with a group and I can’t remember who ordered it. But I do know that we all ended up digging our spoons in for a bite. So. Delicious.
I came home determined to recreate it, but never imagined how easy it would be.
If you can’t find a smoked ham hock, then dice and fry a couple of bacon slices instead. (See, what did I tell you, bait-and-switch.) Or skip the meat altogether and throw in a couple of parmesan rinds from your freezer. You have those, right? Never throw a rind away – they’re great for enriching soups. If you don’t go through enough parmesan to save your own, often you can buy them inexpensively from your local cheesemonger.
If you’re having weather like we are, this is just the thing to make for dinner this week.
- 1 pound dry cannellini beans salt soaked overnight (see recipe notes)
- 1 cup dry farro emmer or spelt berries
- 1 smoked ham hock (or 3 bacon slices diced and fried until crisp)
- 1 onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 3 carrots coarsely chopped
- 3 ribs celery coarsely chopped
- 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 head cabbage coarsely chopped
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano or other good parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- chopped flat leaf parsley
Add soaked beans through cabbage, in order, to the bowl of a large slow cooker. Carefully stir, just to make sure the broth makes it to the bottom.
Cover and cook on high 6 hours, or until beans are tender. (Start checking bean tenderness after 5 hours.)
Lift ham hock from the soup and use a fork to remove and shred the meat - add the meat back to the soup and stir. Discard bone.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve soup topped with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a generous swirl of olive oil, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
See this post for instructions to salt soak beans.