Slow-cooker ham and white bean stew


Patience is a virtue, but it isn’t one of mine. And so I am pacing, expectant, as a friend of mine is days, maybe even hours away from having a baby I feel like she’s been gestating for years. I keep wishing things would hurry along, because while I know people with babies, very few of those people live nearby. And when you have babies, you need other people around you to have them. People with babies need other people with babies because what we really need is a support group with wine.

The longer you have babies, the more you need wine. Mine is an accidental hurricane, a destructive force of nature seemingly bent on exploring and subsequently breaking all my things. That this is going to happen to someone I know is very comforting.

And so my friend is almost there, and because one only needs so many onesies, I had said I would make her freezer meals in lieu of a shower gift. So I have been plodding along, making a container of something here, and a pot of something there. Tonight I added one more to the freezer, a pot of ham and white bean stew, a creamy, savoury combination of leftovers and slow-cookery.

I left the stew in the Crock Pot to cook for ten hours today, and when I came home this place smelled like salty meat and garlic and herbs; using just a few bits and pieces, there was enough hearty stew for at least eight people, I’m sure of it. It’s not beautiful, but it’s delicious, and plenty soothing for someone with a newborn and the imminent danger of having all her favourite stuff smashed by a happy little Hulk.

Crock pot full of stew.

Ham and white bean stew

(Serves 6 to 8.)

  • 1 lb. small white beans, such as Great Northern or navy beans
  • 1 lb. cubed ham
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 6 cups stock (ideally homemade ham stock, but store-bought chicken stock will work too)
  • 1 tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon, if needed
  • Salt to taste

The night before you plan to eat, cover one pound of white beans with an inch of water.

In the morning, drain and rinse your beans. Put them into a slow cooker, along with ham, onion, celery, pearl barley, stock, mustard, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir, cover, set slow cooker to low, and cook for 10 hours.

Go to work, or about your day, or back to bed.

When you get home, stir in pepper, Parmesan, and parsley. Taste, and add lemon juice and salt as needed. Serve with bread. Feel virtuous.

Stew and toast.

8 thoughts on “Slow-cooker ham and white bean stew

  1. You are speaking my language here. I LOVE any sort of beans and ham! White beans (any kind) are a favorite. I have never made it with as many seasonings as you have here, but everything you have listed is in the pantry, and I have to make a trip today and planned on making bean soup in the crockpot before leaving anyway….THANKS! There will be much rejoicing in the household tonight! (with cornbread)


  2. Must be the time of year because this looks and sounds just too yummy to be resisted. One comment tho – if I put my navy beans in to soak the night before they surely would not be looking as “whole” as yours do. They’d be mush. I found out during my last batch of slow cooker beans – I don’t need to pre-soften with the slow cooker and nobody had any after effects.


  3. I remember those baby years. While in the midst of them I thought they’d never be over. The messes, drawing on walls, smashing things, screaming, crying … but then i realized those things were unbecoming, so I stopped. :)) No, really, the baby years will be over before you know it and then the teenage years begin. I miss the days when my babies clung to me. Now they don’t even much like to be in the same room with me. Ah, trade-offs. Must ye be so black and white?

    Anyway, yummmmmmmmmmmmm. You’re making me go to the store today and I don’t want to because it’s COLD. And now I’m whiny. But happily for everyone I can shut myself up when I eat this stew.


  4. Rootie – CORNBREAD! That’s what was missing. Yes. Do that, and it will be delicious. Let me know how it turns out!

    Lisa – Good to know about the navy beans; I always pre-soak and haven’t had any trouble, but I was using Great Northern beans – maybe they act a bit different.

    Camilla – You mean I should stop throwing things!? Haha. I hope you like the stew – do let me know how it turns out!


  5. So fun to have friends who are having babies. Have you or your friends ever been to Soma Studio for a massage? We love giving pregnancy massage and sometimes even induction massage to help things along. I am also the impatient type. Check out our website and let me know what you think.
    Thanks for the stew recipe. It looks amazing.


  6. em, this was absolutely delicious. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs and I had some left from summer’s herb garden. I was tickled to use it! The grainy mustard and parmesan were strokes of sheer genius. Happily, there are leftovers and I just bet it will be better tomorrow than it was today.


  7. Just made this for supper – used peameal bacon aka back bacon instead of ham, only soaked the beans for an hour before hand – and it was delicious. Both kids (young adults) had second helpings. As my other half put – this one was worth doing. Thank you for sharing the recipe.


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