Ham and Bean Soup is a great way to use leftover ham from the holidays. The ingredient list is short and inexpensive, making this a hearty and frugal meal.
Why this recipe works
It’s hard for us to decide between this soup and our split pea soup when it’s time to use up all that glazed ham from the holidays.
This ham and bean soup recipe is perfect for leftover ham after Christmas or Easter! This simple soup is true comfort food and is also excellent for chilly weeknights. Be sure to plan a day ahead for this meal as you will need to soak the beans overnight.
Ingredients you will need
Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version at the end of this post.
MEAT – Use leftover ham from your holiday dinner, or you can purchase diced ham from the grocery store. Other tasty options are smoked sausage or ham hocks.
VEGETABLES – You’ll need a large onion, either white or yellow will work.
Canned diced tomatoes are used in the broth, I am partial to the fire-roasted variety. You can use whatever variety of dried beans you like. I’ve used a 15-bean variety as well as other combinations.
DRY INGREDIENTS – Baking soda is added to the soaking water which helps the beans soften faster by helping to break down the pectin. For seasoning, you will need salt, dried basil, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.
How to Make Ham and Bean Soup
These step by step photos and instructions are here to help you visualize how to make this recipe. You can Jump to Recipe to get the printable version of this recipe, complete with measurements and instructions at the bottom.
- First, you’ll need to add the beans to a large stockpot and cover them with cold water. Stir in the baking soda. This will need to soak overnight at room temperature.
EXPERT TIP – Be sure to check the tips in the recipe card below if you prefer a quick softening method for your beans. I prefer the overnight soak as it seems to always produce more tender beans.
- The next day, completely drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans well.
- Return beans to the pan and add fresh water, chopped ham, onion, and canned tomatoes. Bring soup to a full boil.
- Turn heat down to medium. Cook it on a high simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beans are tender.
- Add in the salt, pepper, and other seasonings.
- Simmer for another 30 minutes then ladle into bowls and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
When beans are packaged for grocery stores, they cannot be washed otherwise they will become moldy. Soaking the beans cleans them and the water should be discarded afterward.
You can make a slurry from cornstarch or flour mixed with a small amount of broth. Whisk it together then add it to the soup during the final simmer.
Another way is to remove about a cup of soup (not just the broth, make sure you have beans and tomatoes) and run it through a blender. Then simply add the blended mixture back to the soup and simmer.
You can refrigerate your cooled soup in an air tight container for 3-4 days.
Yes, you can freeze ham and bean soup a few different ways. Let the cooked soup cool completely. You can freeze your soup for up to 3 months:
– Gallon or quart-sized zipper plastic bags should be date labeled with a black permanent marker. After filling 3/4 full with soup, lay the bags flat in a single layer in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can stack bags to save space.
– Wide mouth glass Mason or Ball jars can be used for freezing ham and bean soup, just be sure to leave an inch or so of headspace.
– There are plenty of plastic containers with lids that can be frozen as well. Leave some extra room for the soup to expand when it freezes.
Yes! You can make ham and bean soup in your Instant Pot. You will still need to soak the beans ahead of time. Then right after rinsing the beans, add all the soup ingredients to the Instant Pot and cook on manual high pressure for 20 minutes with a 10 minute natural release.
You CAN skip the overnight soak and bring the beans and water to a boil on the stove. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for a minimum of one hour. Please note that soaking the beans overnight eliminates some of the sugar molecules that can make beans harder to digest.
A big bowl of hearty ham and bean soup is a great way to warm your bones on a chilly day. This recipe is perfect for using up your leftover ham from Easter or Christmas dinner.
What To Serve with Ham and Bean Soup
- Our homemade Italian bread is my favorite choice with this soup, but my homemade white bread is also wonderful.
- Salad is a popular side choice for soup, and my Caesar salad is delicious.
- If you’re like me and enjoy a chilled side with your hot soup, my cucumber sandwiches would be perfect.
- Hopefully you saved some Christmas cookies for dessert!
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Ham and Bean Soup
IMPORTANT – There are often Frequently Asked Questions within the blog post that you may find helpful. Simply scroll back up to read them!Print It Rate It
- 2 cups dried beans any variety
- 8 cups cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 cups fresh water
- 1 pound leftover ham or smoked sausage, ham hocks, whatever you have on hand
- 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Things You’ll Need
Soaking the Beans:
- Add the beans to a large stock pot and cover them with the water.
- Stir in the baking soda.
- Soak overnight at room temperature.
Making the soup:
- Completely drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans well.
- Return beans to the pan and add the ham, canned tomatoes, and chopped onion.
- Bring to a full boil.
- Turn heat down to medium for a high simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or until beans are tender.
- Add in salt, basil, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
- Simmer for another 30 minutes.
Expert Tips & FAQs
- This recipe is perfect for leftover ham after Christmas or Easter!
- Be sure to plan a day ahead for this meal as you will need to soak the beans overnight.
- Use a large stockpot when soaking beans. Beans can double or triple in size as they rehydrate.
- You CAN skip the overnight soak and bring the beans and water to a boil on the stove. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for a minimum of one hour. Please note that soaking the beans overnight eliminates some of the sugar molecules that can make beans harder to digest.
This recipe was originally published here on July 15, 2009 and has since been updated with new photos and expert tips.
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Hi, could I use can beans and would love to use my crock pot?
Could you recommend a bean to use? Would a type of canned beans work? Or baked beans?
Amanda Formaro says
I probably wouldn’t use baked beans because of the added sweet barbecue sauce they usually come in. But black beans, kidney beans, canellini beans, any of those will work great!
RHONDA GRINAKER says
Delicious. Used leftover Easter ham and ham bone. Even my son loved it and he’s an honest taster. Also used a variety of mixed dry beans. Love!
Renee Wood says
I love this recipe. I in fact made it the day after Easter with my leftover ham. I add diced carrots to mine so my kids will eat it because they love carrots. LOVE!
Loved this! Used a bag of mixed dry beans and used Tony Cashere’s cajun salt for a little extra kick. Yum!
Amanda Formaro says
Love the idea of spicing it up, thank you Nancy!
Raymonde Pelley says
OMG, just found your recipe Amanda, my mom used to make it and it was soooo good. There are a lot of recipes I wish I had from her before she passed away and this ham soup was one of them. Now I have it, thanks to you. I have it on my list now to make it this week. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I give it a 5-star now as after reading the recipe, it’s exactly like my mom’s. Even the picture looks like her soup and I am quite confident that once I make it, it will taste just like hers. Thank you again.
Amanda Formaro says
That’s so wonderful Raymonde, thank you so much! What a wonderful memory of your mom :)
Katrina – Believe it or not, the baking soda cuts down on the possibility of flatulence after eating beans! See this link for more info http://www.wisegeek.com/will-adding-baking-soda-to-beans-prevent-flatulence.htm :)
Chow and Chatter says
love ham and pea soup
By the way I changed my address to match the blog!
It reminds me of the king of soups my grandmothers makes! Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Delicious!!! Love Ham and Beans!!!
Thanks for sharing your recipe:)
What a great recipe! Some really tasty flavors going on!
Looks good and so simple with a little planning (that hardest part for me! ;) What does the baking soda in the soaking water do? I've never heard of doing that. Just wondering.
The soup looks great!
Bean soup is so hearty and total comfort food. I like having this when the weather is a bit cooler. So good with some crusty bread too!
The Blonde Duck says
I haven't had this in forever! I need to try your version!
That is a really great idea – and looks like a meal that would really satisfy!
Love ham and bean soup! I was lucky when my nephews girlfried worked at a Heavenly Ham – I got ham bones whenever I wanted!
MMM! Your bean soup looks delicious. My Mom used to cook brown beans and then make homemade thick noodles to go in the soup. It was so good. I don't get to eat beans like this any longer because I don't bother cooking a bag of beans just for me. You're lucky that you're kids will eat them.
All week long I have been thinking that it's Thursday, today. When I see your Thrifty Thursday post, I had to check to make sure what day it really was. I swear, I'm losing it!
This looks so good – like wonderful comfort food!
I love been soup and can't wait for cooler weather to make it! My husband won't eat it when it's so hot in the summer, but it's a favorite dish! Yours looks great!