You know what radiates comfort? This ham and bean soup recipe. It’s the perfect hearty and healthy winter meal. Serve with homemade bread like my dinner rolls or bacon cheddar biscuits to complete the dish. It doesn’t get more cozy than this!
This is a great dish to make with any leftover ham and veggies you have on hand after the holidays!
What’s more comforting than ham and bean soup? Nothing, that’s what! No, but really, this soup is the epitome of comfort food, and it’s the perfect soup for a cold chilly day.
This ham and bean soup recipe only uses a few fresh pantry staples you likely have on hand — especially around the holidays — like onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, dried thyme, and bay leaves. All of the ingredients simmer and meld together to make the most flavorful soup that is perfectly complimented by the saltiness of the ham. Trust me, this ham and bean soup recipe will quickly become a family favorite and weekly staple!
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Why Does This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe Call for Dried Beans?
I know what you’re thinking. Dried beans? That sounds like too much work. But trust me when I say it really isn’t, and the effort it does require is SO worth it.
Dried beans yield a variety of benefits compared to their conveniently canned counterparts, including:
- Dried beans are much cheaper than canned beans. For example, you can get 2 pounds of dried beans at ALDI for just $1.99, yielding as many beans as there are in 8-9 cans which would cost more than double that price.
- Dried beans are healthier than canned beans because they contain more protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium than canned beans.
- Dried beans contain significantly less sodium (virtually none) compared to the canned stuff. This is crucial for controlling how much salt you want in your dish.
- Most canned foods have BPA in their lining. (Learn more via this article from the EWG.)
- Dried beans tend to have a better texture after being soaked, drained, and rinsed than what you get in a can, which can be end up being mushy after being cooked.
Long story short, soaking your own dried beans is more cost-effective, more nutritious, and more delicious than defaulting to the cans. However, if you have no desire to go this route, you can use canned navy beans, Great Northern beans, or white kidney beans. Just avoid any dark, red, or black beans. (But I implore you to try dried beans first. I promise the difference it makes it worth the prep work!)
Why Do I Need To Soak My Beans?
The most crucial step in cooking with dried beans is to let them soak overnight. Otherwise, you’ll be left with hard, crunchy, powdery, beans in your soup. No one wants that. Follow these steps to perfectly prepare your beans for this ham and bean soup:
- Add beans to a large pot and cover with water. Leave out at room temperature overnight.
- If you are doing it the day of the beans can be quick soaked or soaked for no less than 6 hours.
- Drain and rinse the beans when you’re ready to use them. Pick through for hard bits and discard.
You’ll then puree half of your veggies to make a flavorful puree that acts as a thickening agent for the soup. No roux necessary!
TIP: You know what else doesn’t require a roux and might surprise you? My go-to gluten-free gravy! Check it out here.
Don’t You Dare Toss That Hambone!
The ham bone is the star of this ham and bean soup recipe. You’ll use it to make a rich, savory broth — which is the base of this soup — with the 10 cups of water, rinsed beans, water, garlic powder, bay leaves, fresh thyme, and pureed veggies by bringing it to a boil, then reducing to simmer for one hour covered, or until the beans are tender.
Ingredients for Ham and Bean Soup
- Dried beans: Opt for white bean varieties over darker-toned beans. This will yield a lighter flavor and better compliment the rest of the soup ingredients.
- One ham bone: Does it have bits of meat, fat, and gristle still stuck to it? GREAT! Leave it be. This gives the soup that rich, meaty, savory flavor we want.
- Water: 10 cups, to be exact. When combined with the hambone, you’re left with a luscious, velvety smooth pork broth that is savory and rich and what dreams are made of!
- Spices and herbs: Bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, and parsley come together in this recipe to offer herby notes and a level of flavor that pairs perfectly with the hambone broth, white beans, and sautéed vegetables. (You could also substitute 2-4 fresh thyme sprigs for the dried thyme.)
- Veggies: This ham and bean soup recipe calls for the Holy Trinity of cooking — diced carrots, onion, and celery, aka mirepoix — along with russet potatoes and, of course, the beans. These are fairly simple ingredients, but they pack in a ton of flavor.
TIP: You could also add a clove or two of minced garlic along with the mirepoix. Add after you have sautéed the other veggies and only for 30 seconds or so, until it’s fragrant.
How To Make This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
Soak your dried beans overnight: Add beans to a large pot, and cover with water. Leave out at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse the beans when you’re ready to use them. Check out my section above on how to best use dried beans for more information.
Sauté the veggies: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add in onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender, approx. 4-5 minutes. If you want to add garlic, add it here and sauté until fragrant, approx. 30 seconds.
Puree half of the veggies: Remove half of the vegetables from the pot and add them to a blender to purée until smooth and lump free. Add a splash or two of water if you need to thin it out at all.
Simmer: Next, add rinsed beans, water, garlic powder, ham bone, bay leaves, fresh thyme, pureed vegetables, and cooked veggies to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 1 hour covered, or until the beans are fork tender.
Cook the potatoes: Add the diced potatoes, and cook until the potatoes are tender, approx. 15 minutes.
- Remove inedible ingredients: Pick out and discard the bay leaf, thyme sprigs. and ham bone. If desired, pick off meat from ham bone to stir into soup. (I highly recommend doing this!)
How To Make Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup
Are you a fan of the Instant Pot? I am too! It is perfect for achieving cooked-all-day flavor in a matter of minutes!
While I chose to make this ham and bean soup on the stovetop, you can make it in the Instant Pot. Just follow these steps:
- Set your Instant Pot to the sauté setting, and allow it to preheat with the lid on and locked.
- Add the butter and diced carrots, celery, and onion, and sauté until the veggies have softened (add garlic, if using, at this point and sauté for 30 seconds). Move veggies to a separate bowl, and turn the Instant Pot off. Remove half of the vegetables and purée them in a blender until smooth and lump free. Add a splash or two of water if you need to thin it out at all. Set aside.
- To your Instant Pot, add the remaining ingredients — the 10 cups of water, hambone, rinsed beans, garlic powder (omit if you used raw garlic), bay leaves, fresh thyme, pureed vegetables, and cooked veggies. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot to avoid burning and to maximize flavor. Set to pressure cook on HIGH with the lid on/locked and with the knob pointed to “sealed.”
- Set cook time by pressing pressure cook or manual (be sure pressure is set to HIGH) and use the +/- keys to adjust the time to 45 minutes. (It will take 10-15 minutes for pressure to be reached.)
- Once the cook time has passed, allow the pressure release naturally. Resist the urge to do a quick release, as the Instant Pot is filled with starchy liquid that may spew all over your kitchen, and you risk burning yourself. The natural release of steam is also a critical part of the cooking process, so don’t rush it. This usually takes 10-20 minutes for the pressure to fully release.
- Remove and discard bay leaf, thyme sprigs (if used instead of dried thyme), and ham bone. If desired, pick off meat from ham bone to stir into soup.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh parsley. Most of all … Enjoy!
What To Serve with This Ham and Bean Soup
This soup is decadent and delicious as it is, but it is even better with some bread to dunk into it. Any of these homemade bread recipes would pair beautifully with this ham and bean soup recipe:
- The BEST dinner rolls
- Bacon cheddar biscuits
- Pretzel rolls
- Garlic cheese biscuits
- Homemade cornbread
If you’re more of a cracker-and-soup person, oyster crackers offer pleasant pops of crunch and saltiness that go well with this recipe.
However you eat this ham and bean soup, you’re sure to love it!
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
- To store: Keep leftover ham and bean soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- To freeze: Place leftover soup in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to six months. You could also use a Ziplock bag to freeze; just squeeze out as much air as possible and lay flat to freeze thoroughly It’ll be easier to store this way after it has frozen solid.
- To reheat: Zap refrigerated leftovers in the microwave at 30-second intervals until desired warmth is reached, or simmer in a small post over medium-low heat. Avoid boiling. If using frozen leftovers, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then follow instructions for reheating on the stovetop. You can also microwave, but you do run the risk of leaving “cold pockets” in the soup; so simmering on the stove is best and ensures it is evenly heated throughout. Add a bit of stock or water if needed to thin it out, and enjoy!
More Soup Recipes To Try
If you liked my ham and bean soup, then you’ll love these other soup recipes!
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Italian Gnocchi Soup with Kale and Sausage
- Turkey Meatball Vegetable Soup
- Turkey Tortilla Soup
- Italian Ham and White Bean Orzo Soup
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 pound dried beans,, soaked overnight
- 1 ham bone,, including ham scraps still left on it
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 10 cups water
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
- 1 tsp fresh parsley, for garnish
- salt and pepper
- Soak beans overnight: Add beans to a large pot and cover with water. Leave out at room temperature overnight. If you are doing it the day of the beans can be quick soaked or soaked for at least a minimum of 6 hours. When you are ready to use the beans drain and rinse them.
- Saute vegetable: Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add in onions, carrots and celery and saute until tender, 4-5 minutes.
- Puree half of the veggies: Remove half of the vegetables from the pot and add them to a blender. Puree until smooth and lump free. (If necessary add a splash or two of water).
- Simmer: Next add rinsed beans, water, garlic powder, ham bone, bay leaves, fresh thyme and pureed vegetables to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 1 hour covered or until the beans are tender.
- Cook potatoes: Add the potato and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Serve: Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.