White Bean and Ham Soup

We’ve had some wonderfully cold, rainy, winter storms here lately in Northern California. This soup is the perfect hardy accompaniment to a cold winter day. Note, this soup is the kind that is much better the next day, as the flavors from the beans, ham, and vegetables have had time to blend.

White Bean and Ham Soup Recipe

  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • 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 ham hocks or shanks
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence, or Italian seasoning
  • 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, diced
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley


1 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 Meanwhile, put the ham hocks or shanks in a large pot and cover with 2 quarts of water. Add the herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another hour, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone. Pull the meat off the bone and discard the bones.

3 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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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Dank

    WOW. This was so good! I didn’t have any Herbes de Provence and couldn’t find any in the local grocery, so I looked it up on the Internet and made my own. Was missing a couple of the herbs for it, but the soup still tasted great. This is one I will definitely make again.

  6. Jackie DeSmyter

    I’ve made this receipe but use the great northern beans that can be purchased in a glass container already cooked. (Can be bought ahead of time to be used at a later time).
    Also I use approximately 2-3 cans of chicken broth instead of water.
    Instead of a ham bone I purchase packaged diced ham from the lunch meat area in the grocery store. This ham can be frozen before hand to be used when necessary.
    Besides the carrots, celery, onions, I add a small amount of chopped potatoes and a small can of diced tomatoes drained and salt and pepper to taste.
    By having the beans and diced ham on hand I can make this bean soup any time as I usually have the other ingredients in the fridge.

  7. Dave Hubbard

    This recipe could be made better by using ham stock instead of water.

    I would also soak the white beans in water and white wine for 6 hours.

  8. Pat Hoffman

    Great recipe…
    I used chicken stock instead of water but would recommend low sodium chicken stock instead.

  9. Robert Rajchel

    Very simialar to my recepie. Only thing I like to do is add two 5.5 oz. cans of v-8 cocktail juice or tomato sauce, and try using beef boulion instead of chicken stock. I think you’ll be pleased

  10. Otty

    Made this yesterday afternoon. This is very good! My son loved it so much that he had it for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. I did not put tabasco though cause I was not sure my son would like it. Also, I added a little beef bouillion.

  11. Barbara

    Terrific recipe for autumn, and thanks for introducing me to Herbs de Provence. I used a cut-up ~1-lb ham steak (with bone) instead of the intact shank and added a can of chicken stock to the water. With the ham and stock, definitely taste before you salt.

    P.S. Several drops of Tabasco per serving is the way to go.

  12. Erin

    Just HAD to post: I just made this recipe on Christmas Day, using the leftover ham from our Christmas dinner. It took no time to make and was a hit! It was sort of like “dinner–round two” for us! Thank you!

  13. Sally

    My family loves Navy Bean and Ham Soup. Just the thing for these cold rainy Oregon days. My problem is I soaked the beans for 2 days in the fridge am not too sure that they are still good. Any helpful suggestions? Let me know.

  14. David

    My mom used to make this when I was growing. I make it now and have with garlic bread. Very Good!

  15. Sharon

    This recipe is almost exactly the way I have been making beans and ham hock for years. I love it most when I have a nice meaty leftover ham bone to use.I cook the ham bone and beans together from the start, cooking the beans longer over low heat-approx 2-4 hours until the beans really soften and thicken a bit. Sometimes I add a small can of tomato sauce as well. I like to soak the beans overnight if possible to enhance their cooking time. Love your blog.

  16. Debbie

    I printed off this recipe and tried it. My husband and I both loved it. In fact, we just had it for lunch today and it’s delicious. I had made a ham a week ago and I used the ham bone in this one. Normally, I would just toss it but when I read this recipe, I decided to try it. No more ham bones in the garbage, that’s for sure. Thank you.

  17. John

    Serve over a slice of corn bread – yum!

  18. jasi

    This came out great. I mashed the veggies with my spoon a bit near the end. Dislike intact bean texture. Fantastic soup though. Thanks.

  19. Georgia Fuller

    Can anyone tell me a good, easy way to degrease Navy Bean & Ham soup ?

    Let the soup chill overnight in the fridge. The next morning, scrape off any fat that has solidified on the top of the soup. ~Elise

  20. Betty Crockerpot

    Made this last yesterday. Soaked my beans for 2 hours then simmered with Ham and Vegs another 3 hours. I sauteed the vegs in olive oil for a few minutes prior to adding the mto the pot. This was wonderful. I usually do the overnight soak but this turned out fine. Accompanied with some mexican cornbread and a cold beer and it was a meal to remember. Thanks for the recipe

  21. Matt Canvas

    wow made this for a special Easter treat, what a treat it was thank you!

  22. Emily

    Made this today for dinner. Made just a few minor adjustments to the recipe and it turned out great. Used a little more water and more veggies (another couple carrots and 3 large ribs of celery). Used a few more beans (navy beans because it’s what I had) than called for so that I could put about 2 cups or so through the blender to thicken the soup. Used an Italian herb blend since I do not have Herbes de Provence. Used 2 large ham shanks. Didn’t use Tabasco because I was out, but will try it next time. Had done a lot of searching for just the right recipe for Ham and Bean soup. Glad I settled on this one!! My husband and young children all liked it too.

  23. Nicki Green

    I absolutely love your recipes and I always recommend your site. However, for me, this was a complete failure. My house stunk so bad the first hour of simmering the ham hocks. I was doing a friend’s taxes while making this and her son walked into the kitchen and asked why it smelled dirty. Needless to say, I didn’t even try it. Plus, mine looked nothing like your picture. Oh well. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Also, would love for Hank to share more Venison recipes. We just got a bunch of deer meat from my husband’s co-worker. Thanks again!

    Hi Nicki, well that’s weird. We’ve made this soup a gazillion times without a problem. Here’s an idea about what might be contribution to the stink. There is a season every year where bacon just smells bad when you cook it. My parents tell me it has something to do with what the pigs were eating before they were processed. Maybe this is happening with your ham hocks? Who knows. All I can tell you is that this recipe is one of our family standbys. ~Elise

  24. Randi Lynne

    I used a leftover ham bone with some meat left on it to make this soup. I used large lima beans and threw in a few kale leaves with the onion and carrots. It turned out far tastier than I imagined. With some Tabasco it was perfect!! Your recipes and tried and true and never disappoint. :)

  25. Nikki

    Can I use soldier beans instead? I got some from our CSA and have no idea what to do with them. Thanks!

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