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Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup

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Crockpot ham and bean soup is a perfect cold weather meal. It is especially great if you have some leftover ham to use up. Make some ham and beans in the slow cooker and some cornbread for a comforting and filling dinner.

bowl of ham and beans fresh from the slow cooker.

This hearty meal of ham and beans is made easily in a crockpot. Let it cook all day long and you’ll have a stick to your rib dinner waiting for you when you get home!

Ham and bean soup is perfect with a side of cornbread and is sure to fill you up. Just remember to save a bone and some ham from your next holiday meal.

Happy soup season to one and to all.  I love sitting down to a bowl of soup when the weather is cold.

bowl filled with thick ham and beans ready to eat.

I would enjoy a different soup almost every day during the fall and winter if I didn’t share my dinner table with a soup scrooge.  The struggle is real, y’all!

Luckily I can win him over with things like venison chili and ham and bean soup.  Hearty soups that eat like a meal are acceptable to my husband as long as I don’t go crazy and try to make them too often.

The Ham

This is the perfect use for a ham bone if you had a bone in ham. In fact, we sometimes buy a ham just for an excuse to make ham and bean soup.

Luckily there are so many tasty ways to use leftover ham, so we don’t mind having one every once in a while.

If you don’t want to buy a whole ham, you can get ham shanks, or smoked ham hock to get your soup started. Either will add the richness and flavor you are looking for without the leftovers.

bowl of ham and beans next to corn muffins, ready to eat.

I do remove whatever meat is on the bone at the end and return it to the pot, but I like to add some fresh ham at that point as well.  I like the meat to have a nice hammy texture.

The ham that has been cooked all day is a little soft, so the fresh ham really adds back in the texture and flavor.  Serve your ham and bean soup with some corn muffins or beer bread to help sop it up.

Can I make ham and bean soup without a ham bone?

Yes! It is possible to make perfectly delicious soup without the bone.

While the bone adds richness and depth to the broth, it is not absolutely necessary. You can buy cubed ham or dice a couple of ham steaks if you would like.

I would use a rich chicken stock in place of the water if forgoing the bone though. That will help to bring that depth of flavor.

The Beans

Now that we have the ham covered, it’s time to talk beans. Of course they are important in ham and bean soup.

We find that white beans make for a creamy and visually appealing soup. You can use navy beans, cannellini, or great northern.

If you have a bag of mixed beans intended for 15 bean soup, that would work too.

Make sure to soak your beans overnight. This helps them digest a little bit easier and cook faster.

In the morning, dump the water and rinse the beans and then they are ready to cook.

Optional Add-ins

We love this ham and bean soup recipe as written. It is simple and really allows the ham and beans to shine.

However, you can easily add in more vegetables if you would like. Feel free to toss some celery and carrots in with the onion.

Or wilt in some greens towards the end of the cook time if you would like. Roughly chopped spinach or kale would add a pop of color and roughage.

Bowl of ham and beans in front of slow cooker and a stack of cornbread.

You could also stir in a can of chopped tomatoes if desired to give a 15 bean soup feel. Just wait until the beans are cooked before you stir it in.

Adding acid before the beans are cooked may prevent them from softening. So be aware of that.

My grandma likes adding diced onions and a splash of vinegar to the top of her bowl of soup. You can also sprinkle on some parsley if desired.

Spoonful of ham and beans with cornbread and crockpot in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do if I forgot to soak my beans for ham and bean soup?

If you forgot to soak the beans and you have a pressure cooker, you can use my recipe for Instant Pot ham and bean soup instead. Otherwise you can usually simmer the beans for an hour or so and then use them as if they had been soaked.

How do you thicken ham and bean soup?

If your broth is thinner than you’d like, just mash a few of the beans. The starch from the beans will help make the broth thick and creamier. Leftover soup will thicken after is it chilled and reheated. So another option would be to make the soup in advance and reheat it.

How do you store leftover ham and beans?

Store leftover soup in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Ham and bean soup also freezes really well.

For easy lunches later, freeze it in single serve sizes. Defrost the soup overnight and then warm up when you are ready to eat it.

If you tried this recipe, or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments. Hungry for more?  Be sure to stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for all of the latest updates.

bowl of ham and beans fresh from the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Carlee
Ham and bean soup is a perfect cold weather meal. It is especially great if you have some leftover ham to use up. Make a pot and some cornbread today!
4.85 from 135 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 20 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds dry great northern beans*
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups ham in about half inch cubes

Instructions
 

  • Soak the dried beans overnight. Drain and rinse.
    2 pounds dry great northern beans*
  • Add beans, spices, ham bone, onion and water to your slow cooker. (I used a 6 quart insert)
    2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 meaty ham bone, 8 cups water, 1 large onion
  • Cook on low for about 7-8 hours.
  • Remove ham bone and bay leaf. Stir in chopped ham. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour. (This will give you time to make your cornbread!)
    1 to 2 cups ham
  • For a thicker soup, remove a cup or so of the cooked beans. Mash them then stir them back into the pot. 
  • Store leftover in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage.

Notes

*Navy beans, cannellini beans and other small white beans also work well.
Think of 7-8 hours as a minimum, 8-10 hours is okay as well.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 290kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 19gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 448mgPotassium: 1104mgFiber: 16gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 141mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.85 from 135 votes (135 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Stephanie

Sunday 11th of February 2024

I've never had luck making beans in a crock pot, but I'm going to try this. My question is, if you substitute dried onion flakes for a whole onion, how much do you use? I put a couple tsp. Hope I didn't over do it. I'm going to add parboiled potatoes, cause potatoes dont do well in a crock pot when submerged in water and can carrots, at the end. Cause they don't need to cook 4-8 hours. Thanks for the recipe!

Carlee

Sunday 11th of February 2024

That's not too much onion, I think it will be great. Adding potatoes and carrots at the end sounds like an excellent idea. I hope you enjoy them!

Darla

Sunday 16th of July 2023

I’m proud of my self.The last time I used my crock I checked to see how my food was doing. The allotted time to cook I believe it was 4 hours.It wasn’t DOING. I forgot to plug it in but, had turned on the setting time! Opps! Needless to say we had a very late dinner!

Carlee

Sunday 16th of July 2023

Oh no!! That's the worst!

Darla

Sunday 16th of July 2023

I’ve never added celery & carrots before ( So here it goes) I followed recipe but added smoked garlic & a touch of onion powder & Thyme seasoning.Saving the onion to add on top of the beans with fried onion & potatoes and some hot sauce added on top. Hope it’s good. Started cooking it at 2:00p.m. The cook setting I choose was High for 4- 5 hours. Checking at 4 hours. Thanks for you’re recipe.

Carlee

Sunday 16th of July 2023

I hope you enjoy it!

Grammy Jones

Wednesday 5th of April 2023

Why do so many cooks use garlic powder instead of real garlic? I would think it would taste better, as well as giving us the health benefits.

Carlee

Wednesday 5th of April 2023

You are welcome to use fresh garlic if you prefer, I am sure that would be delicious. Most levels of home cooks have garlic powder in the pantry, but not everyone has fresh garlic on hand all of the time.

Sherry

Sunday 5th of February 2023

Ham & Bean soup had always been a family favorite. I can't wait to try this recipe for the crockpot. The way we enjoy this soup is over diced potatoes, especially the frozen O'Brien potatoes! Cook those while the cornbread bakes & you have an awesome dinner!!

Carlee

Sunday 5th of February 2023

I just heard about serving ham and beans with potatoes for the first time not too long ago. I am really going to have to try it!