This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner. It’s a hearty protein-packed 13 bean soup recipe that will keep you satisfied long after a meal. The best ham and bean soup you’ve ever had will feed a crowd too, and leftovers can be frozen for future use.
This post was updated from 2017 to improve readers’ experience. No changes were made to the recipe
If you love soup on a cold blustery day but don’t like all of the fuss some homemade soups require, you’re going to love this easy Ham and Bean Soup Recipe. It’s the ultimate comfort food.
Ham is often on my holiday table. Ham and about 100 other dishes. You see, I cook for an army whether there are 6 of us or 60.
Before Thanksgiving, my local grocery store runs a promotion where you get a free turkey if you buy a ham. This year I decided to cook the turkey and save the ham for another day.
One thing about ham is it goes a long way.
After we cooked it we only sliced what we needed for our meal. We put the bone and the rest of the uncut ham in the refrigerator for soup.
There is nothing like this ham and bean soup recipe. You wouldn’t believe the flavor all of those beans, peas, and lentils add. You can put it together in no time too.
How to Make Ham and Bean Soup
Making this – the absolute best ham and 13 bean soup recipe ever, is shockingly easy. The recipe uses leftover ham, the bone in the ham also called a ham hock, a soup mix, and a few other ingredients to make a delicious soup with hardly any effort.
Ingredients for Ham and Bean Soup
- Bob’s Red Mill® 13 Bean Soup Mix. A perfect blend of peas and beans and lentils, this adds so much flavor to the soup!
- Ham Hock. This is the shank bone of a pig with ham still on it. It’s the part of bone-in ham that you save for making soup!
- Cubed Ham. Leftover cooked ham works perfectly for this recipe!
- Yellow Onion. Diced.
- Diced Carrots. You can dice by hand or using a food processor is a great way to get your veggies chopped up quickly, the key is to have pieces of carrot that will fit in your soup spoon.
- Celery. Sliced. I like to cut a piece of celery in three strips and then cut tiny slices so that the celery is well hidden in this soup full of beans. It hides the celery but still adds so much flavor!
- Salt and black pepper. To taste.
To make the best bean soup with ham, you’ll need to start by rinsing the beans and doing a “quick soak” or “simmer and salt” method to get the beans ready. You can also just soak them for eight hours as the recipe suggests. Then you place the beans and the ham bone in a large pot such as a dutch oven or large soup pot, cover it with water and bring it all to a boil over medium heat.
Next, simmer over low heat for three to three and a half hours until the beans are soft. Finally, add the cubed ham and other ingredients and cook it for at least thirty minutes. Before serving, remove the ham hock, and throw any meat that comes off of it back into the soup.
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Pro Tips & Variations
- I used Bob’s Red Mill® 13 Bean Soup Mix. It’s packed with beans, peas, and lentils. They have seasoning mixes but you don’t need one with this recipe.
- You could use canned beans and just add them toward the end of the cooking time instead of dried beans. We like white beans such as Great Northern, Cannellini beans, or your favorite beans are all good canned substitutions.
- How to make a thicker broth – Your soup will thicken as the liquid reduces while it simmers. However, if you like a thicker broth, remove ¼ cup of the broth and stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Return the mixture to the soup and stir.
- How to add additional flavor – Add herbs such as fresh thyme and fresh parsley – We find that the 13 soup mix along with the veggies are super flavorful hearty soup. However, you can add garlic, a couple of bay leaves, or even a parmesan cheese rind to the pot. Remove the bay leaves and cheese rind before serving.
- Some recipes call for chicken broth in place of the water. his soup has a flavorful broth. I don’t feel that chicken stock would make that big a difference and would be expensive.
- Ham and bean soup can also be made in the slow cooker (crock pot) by adding all of the ingredients and cooking on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.
FAQ for the Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
What if I don’t have the 13 bean soup mix?
You can use any combination of dried beans that you want. We recommend Dried Pinto Beans, Navy Beans, or Great Northern Beans.
Why use dried beans?
Dried beans are generally less expensive and don’t have added sodium. You can use canned beans but they will not be as flavorful or cook up quite as thick and creamy.
Do you have to soak the bean mix?
No, that’s a myth. You don’t have to soak them all night however, you can do a “quick soak” or a “salt and simmer” method.
How to do a Quick Soak for Dry Beans
To do a “Quick Soak”, cover the beans in a heavy-duty pot. Bring them to a boil and then remove them from the heat. Let rest for 1 hour.
How to Use the Salt and Simmer Method for Dry Beans
For the Salt and Simmer method, cover the beans with water in a heavy pot. Add 1-½ teaspoons of salt and the ham bone. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove the bone and add the ham, onion, carrots, and celery. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
Do you have to throw out the soaking liquid?
No, this article actually stated that beans cooked in the soaking liquid were more flavorful.
What if I don’t have a leftover Ham Bone?
I’ve actually purchased just the ham bone from the butcher before. However, you can add sliced bacon or skip the bone altogether.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s so versatile. You can make it the way your whole family likes it.
How to Store Ham and Bean Soup
How do you store ham and bean soup? This soup can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. I like to separate it into individual servings and put them in microwavable containers so they can make a quick dinner the next day or grabbed easily for quick lunches.
This soup freezes well in an airtight freezer container for up to 6 months. Make sure not to over-fill it and to give it a little space in the container so it doesn’t dislodge the lid. You’ll love having this easy recipe in the freezer on busy days.
What to Serve with hearty Ham and Bean Soup
This 13 bean soup recipe is crying out for some delicious hot bread on the side!
You could also try it with this delicious Crusty Italian Bread.
If you enjoyed the Best Bean soup with Ham, here are a few more you may enjoy!
Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
- Bob’s Red Mill® 13 Bean Soup Mix Bob’s Red Mill®
- 1 ham hock plus additional ham for cubing optional
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1-1/2 cups diced carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery
- Salt and pepper
- Rinse the bean mix. Put the bean mix in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse again in the morning. Put the bean mix in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Add a ham hock (bone) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for approximately 3 to 3-1/2 hours until beans are soft. Add cubed ham (if using) onion, celery, and carrots. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove ham hock and add any meat back to the soup.
- Serve with a hearty bread or crackers.