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
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.