White Bean and Ham Soup

When the weather turns cold, and all you want to do is stay cozy and warm, the best thing to do is to make a big pot of hearty soup. On days like these, nothing is more comforting than this ham and white bean soup. (Well, maybe some fuzzy woolen slippers, but you can’t eat those!)

It’s one of my favorite recipes on the website, and one that my father has been making for the family for decades. He makes a big batch (doubles this one) and because it just gets better as the days go by, we’ll enjoy it for dinner one night and then for lunch for several days afterwards.

Why is it that some stews and soups improve the next day? I think it’s because the flavors from the beans, ham, and vegetables have time to blend. The starch from the beans settles more into the broth making the soup thicker and more stew-like too.

Updated from the recipe archive. First posted in 2006. Only change on the update is to sauté the onions before adding them to the soup.

White Bean and Ham Soup Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 1 lb of white beans—Cannellini or Great Northern—about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2-3 lbs of smoked ham hocks or shanks
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence, or Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced onions (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 2-3 ribs)
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley


1 Soak the dry beans in hot water Fill a pot large enough to hold the beans with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the beans and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Drain the water.

2 Make the ham broth While the beans are soaking in step 1, put the ham shanks or ham hocks in a separate large pot and cover them with 2 quarts of water. Add the herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning. Heat on high heat until the water comes to a simmer, then lower the heat, partially cover and maintain the simmer for about an hour.

3 Sauté the onions Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

4 Add vegetables and beans to the ham broth Once the ham hocks or shanks have been simmering for an hour, add the drained soaked beans from step 1, the onions, garlic, and the chopped celery and carrots. Cook for another 40 minutes or so, uncovered, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone. Remove the ham bones from the soup and pull off any meat and return it to the soup. Discard the bones.

5 Season to taste Add several drops of Tabasco to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.

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Portuguese White Bean and Pork Stew - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

White Bean Soup with Ham and Rosemary - from Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Peppers and Ham - From Andrea's Recipes

White Bean Ham Soup

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Showing 4 of 69 Comments

  • SD

    Thanks for the great recipe. Your version of White Bean and Ham Soup is the closest I’ve found to what my mom used to make! Minus the tabasco which I will try on half! :) Oh and I had to look up Herbes de Provence but I guess now I’ll always know what they are!

  • K.

    Ahhh, my youth! This is my mother’s recipe, as well. It makes me long for the cool rainy season, and, as I’m also in hot Nor Cal with 100 degree days, it can’t come a moment too soon. Thanks for posting this, this one goes into my binder.

  • David Reid

    This is very close to the white bean and ham soup that I’ve made for years. For those of you who don’t have several hours to make this soup, you can also make it in the pressure cooker. (I own an automatic electric one from Farberware.) You just soak the beans for 1 hour then put the ingredients into the pressure cooker (making sure you have enough water to make the soup) and cook on HI (15lbs) of pressure for 20 minutes. Voila! Ham and white bean soup in short time.

    For those who want to come home to a meal ready to eat, you can, indeed, make this classic in a large crock pot. You may find that you want to use a little extra water.

  • RD

    Made this Sunday afternoon for dinner during
    the week. Had to use smoked ham hocks as
    Safeway didn’t have shanks. Cooked them in
    10 cups of water. The beans took 1 1/2 hours
    to cook. The end result tasted a little
    bland so I added salt to compensate. The
    next time I think I’ll try 5 cups water and
    5 cups low-sodium chicken broth.

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