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)

Updated March 3, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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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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.

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147 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Becky

    Amazing recipe! I’ve made it for my family multiple times, and they love it every time! Thank you:)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Mary

    Your blog never lets me down! Ever! But these beans are not done… They definitely should be fully cooked before going into the soup. The 40 minute simmer is not enough The broth is also greasy so I’ll be skimming tomorrow…

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Debbe’ Baker

    This is a Wonderful recipe! I’ve made this recipe since I was a child in my Moms kitchen. I’ve made this in my own kitchen since I was 21. My husband and family and friends all love and enjoy this recipe each time I make it! Thank you for sharing this. I add a teaspoon of cumin also. I use this in my Crockpot often. I notice that a lot of recipes for dried beans don’t mention to clean the beans before cooking! I Always “look over the beans a little at a time, and remove any that’s damaged or discolored along with pieces of rocks and dirt that might be with the beans. It’s called “Looking the beans.” Before hand preparation . After looking and sorting through the beans I put them in a colander and run warm water over them and gently rub the beans between my fingers to wash any dirt or impurities from them, then I add them to the crockpot on top of my chunks of ham and veggies and seasonings. Finally I give it all a nice big stir and put the lid on and set the timer and temp. It’s such an easy and delicious meal with some homemade cornbread , a tossed salad, fried potatoes and onions! “JUST DELISH, along with some Chocolate cake & vanilla bean ice cream !SCRUPDILLIUMSCIOUS GOOD”!

  4. Danielle

    I thought the recipe was ok. My ham hocks and parsley spoiled so I could not used most of them in the soup. Then it took awhile longer for the beans to get soft. Other than that, it tastes good with salt and pepper. Next time I will used the recipe right away and use half chicken broth in the soup.

  5. John

    Awesome recipe. Good alone, but easy to modify. I put a few packs of chicken bullion from the hispanic section of the store in mine.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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White Bean Ham Soup ready for servingWhite Bean and Ham Soup