Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smoked Pork Hock Soup

by burnishings on Flickr.

We discovered a wonderful source for local smoked pork products at the Duncan Farmers' Market in the Square a couple of weeks ago: Ravenstone Farm. We'd been making a delicious pork & beans recipe in the slow cooker, but I wanted something different. I cobbled together a couple of recipes from Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss, my "go to" manual for slow cooking and pretty much 80% of our dinners lately! I used a roasted vegetable soup with what I'd been doing for the pork & beans recipe, and got something like this:

Smoked Pork Hock Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled & chopped into 1" rounds
1 sweet potato (the orange fleshed one!), peeled & chopped into 1" pieces
1 small squash (I've used butternut and Marina di Chioggia), peeled & chopped into 1" pieces
3-4 celery ribs, chopped into 1" pieces
1 large onion, chopped into 1" pieces
4 whole garlic cloves
4 cups total liquid - I used about 2 cups red tomato salsa and 2 cups chicken broth, both home-made
1 medium (about 2 to 3 pounds, depending on the size of your slow cooker - ours is a Crock Pot VersaWare, I think 6 quart) smoked ham hock
1 to 2 cups cooked (or canned) chick peas, drained
1/2 tsp cracked white or green peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil and spread over a rimmed baking pan. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until softened and slightly browned at edges. Place ham hock in the slow cooker. Scrape vegetables into slow cooker. You can use some of the broth to wash off the pan into the slow cooker if there are bits stuck, but I've not found that necessary. Pour the chick peas into the slow cooker. Add the salsa and broth and stir the ingredients together a little to distribute. Add the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and cover the slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours, or high for at least 5 hours, or until the ham is falling off the bone and the vegetables are tender.

This is a very versatile recipe: use whatever root vegetables you've got on hand that you feel like including. It's wonderful with parnsip, turnip (rutabaga), etc. Just enjoy! And like most soups & stews, it's even better the next night. And if you happen to do the baked beans recipe (which I'll have to post at some point) as well, it's fabulous mixed in with this.

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