Ham, bean, potato and bacon soup
3-4 ham shanks (not smoked ham shanks for this recipe)
1 lb. bacon
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
Salt & pepper
In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from skillet. Crumble bacon when cool.
To hot bacon grease, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Transfer to a 5 quart slow cooker. Add ham shanks, chicken broth, potatoes and the beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook on low 5 hours.
Remove ham shanks from slow cooker, let cool for a few minutes, then remove meat from shank bones and set aside. Remove half the soup from slow cooker and pour into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Return the puree to the slow cooker along with meat from ham shank. Stir. Add the tomato sauce and ¾ of the reserved bacon and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to cook on low 1-2 hours. Serve topped with some of the remaining bacon.