White Bean and Ham Soup

Soup and StewComfort FoodGluten-FreeHam

Hearty White Bean and Ham Soup, perfect for cold winter days! White beans, ham shanks, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, Tabasco, and herbs make this delicious ham and bean soup a cool weather classic.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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!)

The Best Ham and Bean Soup – A Family Classic

This ham and bean soup is 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 afterward.

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.

Ham and Bean Soup

Ham shanks versus ham hocks

This recipe uses smoked ham shanks or ham hocks to create the rich broth for the soup. Ham shanks tend to have more meat on them (the photos of the soup show meat from a ham shank) than hocks.

Think of the hock as the pig’s “ankle”, right above the feet. The shanks are below the shoulder (front) or the ham (rear leg).

I recommend using shanks for this recipe if you have a choice. If you use ham hocks and you would like a meaty soup, you may want to add some chopped ham steak to the soup.

More Cozy Soups for Chilly Days:

How to make ham and bean soup (video)

White Bean and Ham Soup Recipe

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

Use ham shanks rather than hocks if you would like a meaty soup.


  • 1 lb or 2 1/2 cups dry white beans—Cannellini or Great Northern
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2-3 lbs of smoked ham shanks or ham hocks
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence, or Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin 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.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. Thank you!

Products We Love

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

166 Comments / Reviews

No ImageWhite Bean and Ham Soup

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jayme Olson

    Wow! Perfect! In isolation with a ham bone and dried beans. Yay!! New go to recipe for my ham bone soup.


    Show Replies (1)
  2. Timm

    This is the best! I made this after Christmas with a leftover spiral cut ham bone and a bunch of the meat that was left on it. Let is all simmer and then chopped the meat. I tried second batch weeks later using white navy beans and it was not as good. You really MUST use Cannellini or Great Northern beans. They create more of a starchy thickness that you don’t get with the little white beans. I also feel the Herbes de Provence give it something so good that you really can’t replace it. I am here during isolation to print this recipe out to make with my leftover easter ham. Thank you so much for sharing!



    Show Replies (1)
  3. William

    Absolutely the best Ham and Bean Soup recipe I have ever made. I did not change anything about the ingredients but I did change a couple of steps. The first was that I am a definite believer in soaking the dried beans overnight changing the water and picking through the beans several times. The second was that I cooked the ham bone with the beans together thus insuring that the beans are done … but they are NOT mushy. The first day servings the liquid is delicious but thinner. The second day and onward the flavor develops and thickens perfectly. I loved the Herbes de Provence which added a beautiful note but wasn’t intrusive. Thank You~!!!


    Show Replies (1)
  4. Betsy

    Can you use pinto beans instead?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. John Brunzell

    What an amazing soup!! I started it at 10:30 am, combined the beans and liquids around 1 pm and then simmered until dinner at around 6 pm. The day was busy and I couldn’t wait to see if it was done at the timeframe discussed above, and that appeared to be the trick. The beans were so tender and flavorful and since I had half a spiral ham, I added a lot more ham than was suggested… The results were outstanding! What an amazing soup to serve the family! Especially when you have little time to be patient. The next day it was even more extravagant! Awesome and amazing all in one!!


    Show Replies (1)
View More
White Bean Ham Soup ready for servingWhite Bean and Ham Soup