Bean soup and cornbread is one of my favorite winter meals. One, it’s easy peasy, especially when you use a crockpot. Two, one day’s cooking ends up being a week’s worth of meals. That’s a win/win, as far as I’m concerned.
- One bag of dried beans (any type, but I prefer the mixed variety)
- One 16 oz bag of baby carrots
- One yellow onion
- 16 oz of country ham seasoning pieces (the bag shown is 2 lbs, but only because it was a better buy. I used half of it and put the rest in the freezer to use later.)
- Pepper and paprika to taste
Empty the beans into a colander and rinse well with cold water. (You can just throw away that seasoning packet that’s inside the bag of beans. It’s mostly salt and doesn’t add any real flavor anyway.)
When the beans are good and rinsed, pour them into a 2-quart bowl or pot and fill with cold water. Cover the bowl (you can drape a dish towel over it or use a plate) and allow them to soak overnight.
The next morning, scoop out and throw away any loose beans floating on top, then drain the rest and rinse well again.
I think layers work best for bean soup left to cook all day in the crockpot so here’s what I do:
Pour all of the drained and rinsed beans into the crockpot.
Peel and slice the onion in big rounds, separate the layers and spread over the beans.
Cover the onions with the ham pieces.
Add the carrots on top. Don’t stir or mix it all up, just leave it in layers like that.
Add water. I used 7 cups here, but make sure you don’t add too much. You should see water around the edges, but you don’t want the ham totally submerged and you definitely don’t want the carrots under water. Instead, once you put the lid on your crockpot and leave it alone to cook all day, the carrots will slowly steam to a really good texture and not end up as orange mush.
Also, if you use too much water it could bubble up and seep out from beneath the lid of your crockpot. If you’re letting the soup cook unattended while you’re at work, that could be a problem.
Sprinkle paprika and pepper over the carrots, as much or as little as you’d like. (I like a lot, obviously.)
Cover the crockpot, set the temperature to LOW and leave it alone for at least 6-8 hours.
Iron Skillet Cornbread
Gotta tell you, iron skillet cornbread fresh and hot out of the oven is one of my most favorite things. The edges and the bottom are crunchy, the bread is light and with a dab of butter melting into the texture, it is yummy!
The trick is a hot oven, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet and some vegetable oil.
FYI, I’m a shortcut kind of cook and I always use self-rising flour and cornmeal.
- One and one-half cups yellow cornmeal
- One-half cup of flour
- One-fourth cup vegetable oil
- One and one-half cups of milk (you can use buttermilk, but I don’t like the taste)
- One tablespoon of sugar
- Two eggs
Mix everything together. The batter won’t be cake-batter smooth and it shouldn’t be. You can stir cornbread too much and then it ends up heavy, so don’t do that. Stir just enough to mix everything up.
Preheat oven to 450º F. Pour two tablespoons vegetable oil into a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet. That sounds like a lot but it’s important. Place the oiled pan in the hot oven for about five minutes, until the oil begins to smoke slightly. Take it out of the oven and pour in the cornbread batter — you should hear a nice sizzle as the batter meets the hot oil and there should be enough oil that it spreads up around the sides of the skillet as the batter spreads.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the sides are golden brown and there’s some color on top.
And that’s it! Cook for one day, eat for a week!