This Ham and Bean Soup is so hearty and flavorful and the perfect way to use up any leftover ham! It’s loaded with veggies, ham, white kidney beans, and so much flavor.
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I’m on a soup kick (we aren’t surprised, are we?) and I’ve got another new one for you!
This one is the perfect soup for holiday leftovers: Ham and Bean Soup!
This delicious soup is so hearty and so flavorful and uses both the ham bone and leftover cooked ham. It can be made using canned beans or dried beans and can easily be customized to suit your tastes.
Oh, and it takes just 15 minutes to prep!
If you love this soup recipe, you’ll also enjoy this Hamburger Soup, this Potato Soup and this Easy Minestrone Soup!
- Oil: you need just a little bit of oil to sauté the veggies before putting together the soup. I use canola oil but feel free to use your favorite cooking oil.
- Veggies: we’re creating a flavor base with the classic mirepoix trio—carrot, onion, and celery!
- Garlic: use freshly minced garlic for the best flavor.
- Seasonings: this soup is so flavorful thanks to a blend of salt, dried thyme, dried parsley, and black pepper. You can swap these out for your favorite herbs if you want to.
- Water, Ham Bone, and Chicken Bouillon: water is the base for our soup, flavored with ham bone and chicken bouillon. I love to use Better than Bouillon, but any kind will work. If you don’t have a ham bone, you can grab a smoked ham hock from the grocery store — it will still add a ton of flavor!
- Beans: you’ll need 2 cans of white kidney beans. Don’t forget to drain and rinse! You can swap these out for another variety of bean if you prefer.
- Ham: use cooked, chopped ham. Add as much or as little as necessary depending on how meaty the bone is.
How to Make Ham and Bean Soup
This hearty soup takes just 15 minutes to prep!
- Sauté the aromatics: In a large pot, heat oil, then cook carrots, celery, and onion until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and seasonings and cook for another minute — this helps to wake up the flavor of dried herbs after sitting in the cupboard!
- Add the broth ingredients: To the pot, add in water, ham bone, and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the meat and beans: Remove the ham bone, pull off and shred any meat, then add the meat back to the pot along with beans and more ham if needed.
Ham and Bean Soup FAQs
Thanks to the Chicken Bouillon, the soup is already plenty flavorful, so I like to add just a few additional spices to take it up a notch. For this soup, I use salt, dried thyme, dried parsley, and black pepper and it’s perfect!
I use canned white kidney beans, but you can totally swap them out for another type of bean if you prefer. Great Northern beans, navy beans, or Cannellini beans are all also great options.
See the recipe notes for how to use dried beans if that’s what you’re starting with.
You can create a thicker soup by simply adding less water/bouillon. If you’ve already made your soup, you can thicken it more by simmering it with the lid off to allow moisture to evaporate. Additionally, whisk in a mix of 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch, a little at a time, until the soup is thickened to your liking.
Leftover Ham and Bean Soup will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen, then warm in the microwave or on the stove until heated through.
Tips and Notes
- You can use ham bone, ham hock, or ham shank. I like to use leftover ham bone from the holidays, but ham hock or ham shank also both work great. You want something that’s fully cooked or smoked.
- If the ham hock or shank has skin on, you can choose to either cut it off or leave it on (I usually cut it off).
- If the ham bone you use is quite meaty, you won’t need as much additional ham. If you don’t have ham bone, you will need a bit more. Just use your best judgement here!
- Be careful with the salt. Bouillon can be quite salty, so I recommend starting with less and adding more at the end if necessary. Don’t be afraid to add seasoning at the end if it’s not quite where you want it!
Variations for Ham and Bean Soup
- Use dried beans. If you prefer, you can totally use dried beans for this recipe. I recommend soaking them overnight (or 2 hours minimum), then adding them to the soup with the ham bone. They will soak up more liquid, so keep an eye on it and add more water as necessary.
- Make it vegetarian. Just make it into bean soup! Leave out the ham bone and cooked ham and just add more beans, then swap the chicken bouillon out for veggie.
- Spice it up. Give the soup a kick of heat with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
Ham and Bean Soup is plenty filling on its own, but it’s also great with a side dish! A few of my favorites are crusty buttered bread, cornbread, Roasted Potatoes, Dinner Rolls, Homemade Coleslaw.
More Leftover Ham Recipes to Try
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Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 2 ribs celery (sliced)
- 1 medium onion (finely diced)
- 2 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups water (use 7 cups for a thicker soup)
- 1 ham bone, ham hock, or ham shank* (cooked)
- 1-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon**
- 2 cans white kidney beans (540ml or 19oz each) drained and rinsed
- 1-2 cups cooked, chopped ham*** (optional — depending on how much ham you have already)
- Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven (at least 5-6 quarts) on medium-high heat and add the oil.
- Add the carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, thyme, parsley and pepper. Cook and stir 1 minute.
- Add the water, ham bone and 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 hour (you can simmer even longer if you like, up to 2 hours, but the vegetables will get softer).
- Remove the ham bone and pull the meat off. Shred with two forks. Stir the ham back into the soup along with the white beans and additional ham if using.
- Heat through, taste and serve. (*Note that the added salt is on the low end because ham and bouillon can be quite salty. Before serving, continue to add salt in ½ teaspoon measurements, as well as additional bouillon if needed, until it tastes well-seasoned).
- You can use dried beans for this recipe if you prefer! I recommend soaking overnight (or at least a couple hours), then adding them to the soup with the ham bone or ham hock. The dried beans will soak up more liquid as they cook, so keep an eye on it and add additional water as needed.
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Tried this recipe?
Tag @thereciperebel or hashtag #thereciperebel — I love to see what you’re making!Tag @thereciperebel
Victoria Lea says
Hi, Can I use a gammon steak and shouuld that be cooked first?
The Recipe Rebel says
I’m not familiar with gammon steak, so can’t way for sure.
Debbie D says
Pleasantly surprised with this soup. Used my leftover ham bone and boy is this soup good! Used less water and pureed some beans to thicken.
The Recipe Rebel says
Hi Debbie! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Hi there! Wondering if I were to soak dried beans overnight, about how much would I need to soak?
The Recipe Rebel says
Hi Marta! I’m pretty sure the package of the beans would have those directions. Hope you enjoy this recipe!
Just wanted to come back here and update! I have made this recipe twice now and it’s my go to for ham and bean soup! I had some frozen ham in the freezer leftover from the holidays and have been using it to make so many batches of this soup 🤤 10 weeks postpartum and it’s been such a lovely treat to eat and have canned for later in the week or month. Just made more today, both my two year old son and husband are fans too! Hugs!
The Recipe Rebel says
Thank you so much Marta! Congrats!
This is similar to my ham & bean. I use Navy beans which I soak over night. I don’t put a chicken bouillon in as it makes its own delicious flavor from the Big bone from the ham. My husband loves it.
At thanksgiving the supermarkets off a free ham or Turkey I usually end cutting the entire ham in chunks to put in my soap and that huge ham bone cooks in there too till the end. I freeze 4,5,6 containers.
Thanks for sharing your recipe!
I loved it
The Recipe Rebel says
Hi Wendy! So glad you enjoyed them! Thank you for this kind review!