Slow cooker 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!
This hearty meal of ham and beans is made easily in a slow cooker. 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 soup season.
I would celebrate almost daily 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 chili and ham and bean soup. Hearty soups that eat like a meal are acceptable as long as I don’t go crazy and try to make them too often!
I had a nice meaty leftover ham bone after enjoying a spiral ham. So, I put it to good use! I like to throw the bone in with the beans for the cooking.
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, but we love ham so getting a whole ham is our preferred method.
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. Slice up some fresh cornbread and you are in business!
We actually really like ours with corn muffins instead. They are super simple to make from scratch. If you haven’t tried them yet, you really should!
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.
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 in some celery and carrots 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.
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 just 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.
Leftover ham and beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For longer storage, freeze the soup for up to three months. I like to freeze it in individual serving sizes for an easy meal later.
More great ham recipes
If you love ham and beans, but would like a quicker version check out my recipe for instant pot ham and bean soup.
If you still have leftover ham after making your soup, use some to make pasta with peas and ham. It has a light cream sauce with Parmesan cheese to bring it all together.
I also have a collection of recipes using leftover ham if you need more inspiration!
How do you thicken ham and beans?
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!
How do you store leftover soup?
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!
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- 2 pounds dry great northern beans*
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 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
- 1-2 cups ham, in about half inch cubes
- optional: 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- Soak the dried beans overnight. Drain and rinse.
- Add beans, spices, ham bone, onion and water to your slow cooker. (I used a 6 quart insert)
- Cook on low for about 7-8 hours.
- Remove ham bone and bay leaf. Stir chopped ham. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour. (This give you time to make your cornbread!)
- For a thicker soup, remove a cup or so of the cooked beans. Mash them then stir them back into the pot.
*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.
If you want a thicker soup, mash a few of the beans and stir them back into the pot.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 636mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 16gSugar: 3gProtein: 24g
All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.