The Best Ham and Bean Soup Recipe

Wholesome, nourishing, and full-flavored, this Ham and Bean Soup is just the thing for a wintry lunch or dinner. Ham and great northern beans come together in a delicious broth with tender vegetables and savory herbs. Delicious!

overhead shot of spoon in a white bowl filled with ham and bean soup

Easy One-Pot Ham and Bean Soup

There’s nothing quite like a good bowl of hearty soup, is there? This ham and bean soup is especially warm and filling thanks to tender white beans, which cook up with a firm texture and mild, nutty flavor—the perfect partner to smoky bacon and ham, carrots and onions, and classic chicken broth. You’ll love how easy this comforting recipe is.

This delicious soup is similar to my original Tuscan White Bean Soup, but with some adjustments and extra hearty ingredients. This version is a quick recipe, perfect to use up with leftover ham, and it is ready in about 30 minutes.

overhead shot of spoon and bread slices in a white bowl filled with ham and bean soup

Soup Ingredients

  • Bacon: You’ll need 3 slices of bacon, diced.
  • Butter: For sauteing the veggies.
  • Celery, Carrots, and Onion: Thinly slice the carrots and celery, and chop the onion.
  • Fresh Garlic: You’ll need 3 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chili Powder Blend: I like a mild chili powder for this recipe.
  • Ham: This recipe uses 2 cups of cooked ham, cubed. It’s a great way to use up leftovers from a baked ham!
  • Beans: I use canned Great Northern beans for this recipe, but you can use just about any beans you like, including dried beans that you’ve soaked and cooked beforehand. Each type of bean will have its own slightly different flavor and texture.
  • Broth: You’ll need 6 to 8 cups of low sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth, or homemade broth/stock.
  • Bay Leaf
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley: For garnish.

sauteeing ham and vegetables in a dutch oven

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup

You would think a full-bodied soup like this would need to simmer on the stove for hours, but not so! This easy recipe comes together quick. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Cook the Bacon Bits. Cook the diced bacon in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Remove the cooked bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Cook the Vegetables. To the bacon grease, add 1 tablespoon butter. Then add celery, carrots, and onion; cook for 4 minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender. Stir in the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  3. Add the Ham, Beans, and Broth. Stir in the ham and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just heated through. Add the beans; stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and the bay leaf, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Finish the Soup. Discard the bay leaf, and stir in the cooked bacon bits. Adjust the salt and pepper, garnish with parsley, and serve.
  5. Enjoy!

cooking ham and bean soup in a dutch oven

Tips for the Best Ham and Bean Soup

  • Rinse the Beans: Yep, you read that right! Even if you’re using canned beans, which have been rinsed and cooked prior to shipping, you should rinse away the liquid from the can. It tends to have a, well, “canned” taste. Drained and rinsed beans will taste better in the final dish.
  • Acid Test: Sometimes one or more elements of a recipe aren’t as fresh or bright as you’d like. If your soup tastes a little dull, try adding a tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice, or a teaspoon of your favorite vinegar, to brighten and balance the flavors.
  • Parmesan, Please: Want to enrich the flavor even more? Try adding a piece of Parmesan rind to the soup during cooking, and then discard along with the bay leaf. Super tasty and easy!

overhead shot of spoon in a white bowl filled with ham and bean soup

Serving Suggestions

  • So Fresh: I’m a big fan of salad and soup together. So healthy and the contrast in texture, color, and even temperature is a culinary delight! A classic Mediterranean Cobb Salad makes a super accompaniment to this hearty soup.
  • Classic Cornbread: Beans and cornbread are just a delicious combination, so a simple batch of my Light Skillet Cornbread is a wonderful side. Or you can take it up a notch with Cranberry Orange Cornbread Muffins! Flavor for days!
  • Soup Trio: Maybe you’re having guests and want to do something easy and different for dinner. How about a soup trio, with breadsticks and salad on the side? Serve up this bean soup, a perfectly creamy Asparagus Soup, and a vegetable-packed Instant Pot Chicken Zoodle Soup for options that will make everyone happy!

close up overhead shot of bean soup with ham and vegetables

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Soup

  • To refrigerate leftovers: Cover tightly or store in airtight food storage containers and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
  • To reheat: Place portion(s) of soup in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Can You Freeze Ham and Bean Soup?

  • Yes! Place portions of the cooled soup in freezer bags or food storage containers, and freeze for up to two months.

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