Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

A classic from my childhood, this easy Ham and Bean Soup recipe is a nourishing and satisfying supper that’s full of flavor! Smoky and rich, the homemade soup comes together quickly on the stovetop (no soaking the beans!), but can also be prepared in the slow cooker. It’s perfect alongside a loaf of crusty bread or a pan of cornbread. Just get the pot simmering and your work is done!

Overhead shot of two bowls of ham and bean soup on a wooden dinner table.

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup | 1-Minute Video

Old Fashioned Ham and Bean Soup

I have vivid memories of my dad’s ham and bean soup from my childhood. As soon as the temperatures drop or life gets busy, I find myself craving the comforts of home and a warm bowl of soup for the soul!

This white bean and ham soup (and really, soup in general) is like the workhorse of the food world. It’s easy, it’s economical, it’s nutritious, and it can be prepared in advance and kept on hand for busy days. Plus, the leftovers are even better! Keep this soup in the fridge or freezer and you’ve got an easy lunch or dinner on hand that you can reheat in a matter of minutes!

Close up side shot of ham and bean soup in a white mug with fresh herbs on top.

What Ham To Use

Be sure to use a smoked ham hock (not a fresh ham hock) for this recipe, because the smoked meat gives the soup all of its flavor! I find the smoked ham hocks in my grocery store near the sausage and bacon, but you can also check near the pork products. Just about every store carries them!

Reader Tip: Others have prepared the soup using a 1-2 lb. ham shank, and that works well, too. A leftover ham bone will do the trick as well — just make sure that you have some leftover chopped ham to add to the soup as well!

As the bean and ham soup simmers on the stove top, the meat becomes very tender and can easily be pulled off of the bone. Then you just discard the fat and bone from the ham hock and add the tender meat back into your pot. You keep the smoky flavor and the meat, and you get rid of the stuff that you don’t want!

Adding diced vegetable to a cast iron pot.

What Kind of Beans in Ham and Bean Soup?

This recipe works well with any canned white beans, such as Great Northern beans, navy beans (also called Yankee beans), or cannellini beans (white kidney beans). The canned beans do not need to be pre-soaked in water, so this is a quick and easy version of the classic soup. If you prefer to start with dried beans, use this recipe.

Pouring chicken broth into a Dutch oven.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of ham and bean soup. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Butter: to sauté the vegetables. You can substitute with olive oil, if you like.
  • Carrots, celery, onion and garlic: aromatics that add tons of flavor to the soup.
  • Chicken broth: I prefer less-sodium chicken broth (since the ham hock adds a good amount of salt to the soup on its own), but you can substitute with regular chicken broth or vegetable broth as well. For a real treat, use homemade chicken broth or chicken stock!
  • Canned white beans: use navy beans, cannellini beans, Great Northern beans, or just about any other variety that you prefer.
  • Fresh thyme: for savory flavor. If you don’t have fresh thyme, you can substitute with a smaller amount of dried thyme (about ½ teaspoon).
  • Smoked ham hock: for rich, smoky flavor. Readers have successfully used ham shanks, too!
  • Bay leaf: makes the soup taste like it’s been simmering on the stovetop all day long!
Adding diced ham to a Dutch oven.

How to Make White Bean and Ham Soup

This bean and ham soup is the perfect lunch or dinner to throw in a pot while you go about your day. With a warm loaf of crusty bread, it’s a delicious and satisfying lunch or dinner that will make your friends and family feel cozy inside!

  1. Sauté garlic and carrots, onion, and chopped celery, in butter.
  2. Add chicken broth, beans, thyme, ham hock, and bay leaf.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour.
  4. Pull out the bay leaf and the ham hock.
  5. Remove the meat from the ham bone, chop the meat, and then return the diced ham to the pot. Discard the bone and fat.
  6. Season with salt and pepper so that the soup tastes exactly how you like it.
  7. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh parsley or thyme, and serve!
Close overhead shot of crockpot ham and bean soup on a table.

How to Thicken Ham and Bean Soup

For a thicker soup, mash or puree some of the beans at the end of cooking. You can do this with a potato masher, or you can use an immersion blender. The pureed beans will add texture to the dish and thicken the soup. Just be careful not to puree all of the soup!

Another easy way to thicken the soup is to continue simmering the pot with the lid off until it reduces.

Side shot of bowls of ham and bean soup on a dinner table with cornbread.

What to Serve with Easy Ham and Bean Soup

Here are a few simple options to eat with navy bean and ham soup:

Hands dipping cornbread in a bowl of navy bean and ham soup.

Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup

If you prefer the convenience of the slow cooker, you can also prepare this hearty soup in the Crock Pot! Simply sauté the vegetables and garlic in butter, as instructed, then transfer them to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients as instructed in Step 3, cover, and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours. Pull the meat from the bone, return it to the pot, and serve!

Storage

Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It’s a great make-ahead option for busy weeks.

How to Freeze

This is a great freezer meal, so prepare a big pot and stick any leftovers in the freezer for a quick-prep lunch or dinner option. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Stored in an airtight container, the soup will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating and enjoying.

How to Reheat

Place the soup in a pot and warm over a low flame, just until heated through. You can also microwave individual bowls for about 1-2 minutes.

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer a dried bean soup that starts with soaking the beans, try this recipe.
  • Instead of a smoked ham hock, use a leftover ham bone from a Christmas or Easter ham, or use a ham shank. If using a leftover bone, make sure that you have some leftover ham to add to the soup as well.
  • Add a can of petite diced tomatoes.
  • For extra veggies, add fresh spinach at the very end or kale when there’s about 10 minutes left so that it has time to wilt in the hot soup.
  • Use even more fresh herbs. In addition to thyme, try parsley, rosemary, chives, basil, or oregano.
  • I used chicken broth, but vegetable broth will also work well.
  • Leftover roast chicken would also work well in this soup. Stir it into the soup, just like you would the ham.
  • Spicy: add a dash of cayenne or garnish with crushed red pepper flakes.
Hands holding a bowl of the best ham and bean soup recipe on a dinner table.

Tips For Making the Best Ham and Bean Soup Recipe

  • Ham hocks can be quite salty, so I recommend using low-sodium chicken broth and seasoning with herbs. You can always season with salt and pepper to taste at the end.
  • Puree or mash some of the beans (and veggies) to thicken the soup. You can use a potato masher or an immersion blender.
  • The soup just gets better as it sits in the fridge, so feel free to make a pot in advance and reheat the ham and bean soup the next day. It will have great flavor and texture!
Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of white bean and ham soup.

More Bean Soup Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a bowl of ham and bean soup

Ham and Bean Soup

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 10 cups
Calories 164 kcal
Smoky and rich, this homemade, comforting ham and bean soup recipe comes together quickly on the stovetop or in the slow cooker!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 3 cloves garlic)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (about 5 ¼ cups total) (use navy beans, Great Northern beans, or cannellini beans, for instance)
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ lb. smoked ham hock
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Optional: chopped fresh parsley or thyme, for garnish

Instructions

  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir until vegetables are crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Stir in chicken broth, beans, thyme leaves, ham hock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Discard bay leaf.
  • Remove ham hock; pull meat off the bone and discard fat. Cut ham into bite-sized pieces and stir into the pot. Garnish with parsley or thyme, just before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Ham hocks can be quite salty, so I recommend using low-sodium chicken broth and seasoning with herbs. You can always season with salt and pepper to taste at the end.
  • Puree or mash some of the beans (and veggies) to thicken the soup. You can use a potato masher or an immersion blender.
  • The soup just gets better as it sits in the fridge, so feel free to make a pot in advance and reheat the ham and bean soup the next day. It will have great flavor and texture!
  • If you prefer a dried bean soup that starts with soaking the beans, try this recipe.
  • Instead of a smoked ham hock, use a leftover ham bone from a Christmas or Easter ham, or use a ham shank. If using a leftover bone, make sure that you have some leftover ham to add to the soup as well.
  • Add a can of petite diced tomatoes.
  • For extra veggies, add fresh spinach at the very end or kale when there’s about 10 minutes left so that it has time to wilt in the hot soup.
  • Use even more fresh herbs. In addition to thyme, try parsley, rosemary, chives, basil, or oregano.
  • I used chicken broth, but vegetable broth will also work well.
  • Leftover roast chicken would also work well in this soup. Stir it into the soup, just like you would the ham.
  • Spicy: add a dash of cayenne or garnish with crushed red pepper flakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 164kcalCarbohydrates: 22.3gProtein: 12.4gFat: 3.9gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 15.1mgSodium: 826.5mgFiber: 7.8gSugar: 3.6g
Keyword: bean soup, crockpot ham and bean soup, ham and bean soup, navy bean and ham soup, white bean and ham soup
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2017. The photos were updated in February, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. This soup reminds me of my childhood, too. My Grandma used to make split pea soup with ham, similar to this. It wasn’t a favorite of mine at the time, but now I love it. Your version sounds delicious, Blair! I could definitely use a big bowl of this for lunch today!

  2. It really sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it. I hope it’s not hard to make. Or so it seems easy from the recipe.

  3. Ooh, this would be perfect for using up Christmas leftovers as we always have leftover ham! Yum!

  4. Yum Yum! What are some great sides to serve w/ this? Corn bread comes to mind but I’ve backed off on making it beez it is always so-o-o- dry … My family won’t even eat it. So how about a good sour dough toast w/ cheese or garlic butter? At a loss. M

    1. Hi, Mary! Yes, if you’d like something other than cornbread, you can try the sourdough toast that you suggested, frozen Texas Toast, a loaf of French or Italian bread from the bakery, or refrigerated biscuits or crescent rolls that you just pop in the oven. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    Is it bad that I’m ready for summer to be over so I can eat things like this!? Haha it looks so delicious and hearty!

  6. 5 stars
    Ok, I’ll admit, I love the “bean with bacon” canned soup from the store. I don’t really follow recipes too closely but a trick I’ve found is to mash up or even puree anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the beans at the end. It won’t hurt if you get a little of the veggies mashed up either. Makes the soup more creamy like the store bought ones.

    1. Great tip, Tim! I also love a THICK bean soup, and I have found that this soup thickens up really nicely as it sits and cools (even without having to puree some of it). I always make it at least 1-2 days in advance, since it gets thicker and more flavorful in the fridge!

  7. I’ve used this recipe more than a few times using a 1 to 2 pound ham shank as there is more meat on them.
    The ones I get from my local store/butcher counter are like little hams and work great.

    1. Hi, Jean! I haven’t found that to be a problem, but you can certainly wait to stir them in until closer to the end if you’re concerned about too many soft beans. I think that it’s fine if some of the beans break down, as it adds texture and thickness to the soup. Just a matter of preference, though!