Use leftover ham to make this hearty ham and bean soup! Full of great northern beans, carrots, ham and seasonings.
We almost always have a ham in our freezer. After we enjoy a ham dinner, the fun comes of making all of the leftover ham recipes. Soups, casseroles and salads…and don’t forget this classic ham and bean soup!
Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
Did you grow up eating ham and bean soup? We didn’t, be have heard so much about it and have been asked for a recipe so many times! We found this great recipe on Allrecipes.com and it looked like a classic. After several recipe tests, my husband has come to love this soup. It’s a great way to use up leftover ham.
Are ham and beans good for you?
Ham and bean soup is high in fiber and also has a good amount of protein. It tends to be higher in carbs because of all the beans, but the good news is just a small serving should fill you up. This recipe makes about 8 cups.
Cooking a Ham Bone
The first step in making this soup is to cook a ham bone. How do you cook a ham bone? Simply place them ham bone in a large pot. It’s ok if there is still some meat on it, but take off as much as you’d like for casseroles or sandwiches. Cover the bone with water (about 8 cups) and bring to a low boil. Simmer for anywhere from 1-3 hours. After the bone has simmered, remove and discard the bone. The remaining liquid is your ham broth and this is what you’ll make soup with.
**Pro Tip: We make our ham broth the day before we make the soup. Discard the bone, then allow the broth to cool. Cover the broth and refrigerate until you are ready to make the soup. The ham bone broth will most likely be gelled the next day. That’s ok! It’s full of collagen and minerals to make your soup a little healthier. We discard any of the white fat that has hardened on top, but use all of the gel to make the soup. It will liquify as you heat it.**
Can I freeze a ham bone for soup later?
Yes! Take a peek at this ham storage chart to see how long the FDA recommends freezing ham, but you can definitely freeze a ham bone to make soup another day.
Do you have to soak great northern beans before cooking?
The second step in making ham and bean soup is to soak the great northern beans the night before making the soup. This is called “degassing” the beans. Soaking the dry beans helps to get rid of some of the indigestible sugars on the beans. Allow the beans to sit in cool water at least 4 hours…but we let them go overnight. Then rinse them well before starting the soup.
**Pro Tip: Did you forget to soak the beans? Don’t worry! Simply rinse the beans, then put them in a saucepan. Cover them with water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Boil for a 3-4 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow the beans to soak for one hour. Rinse and then continue with the recipe.**
How do you make ham and bean soup?
Prepare the ham bone broth and the beans as explained above.
Then prepare the soup as follows:
Pour the 6 1/2 cups of ham broth (or gel if cooled) into a large soup pan. If you didn’t get enough broth for 6 1/2 cups, add water or chicken broth to make enough for 6 1/2 cups.
Add beans to the ham broth.
Simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ground mustard and bay leaves.
Simmer for another hour.
Add the chopped ham and pepper.
Simmer for 30 minutes.
As you’ll see this takes 2 1/2 hours of simmering the soup. This isn’t a “quick” soup recipe. You’ll need to plan ahead for it!
How do you make ham and bean soup thicker?
The best way to prevent ham and beans being to “soupy” is to not add too much liquid to start with. 6 1/2 cups of broth is enough for us to have some liquid, but it is definitely not too “soupy”. Here are some options:
- Add some potatoes or other starchy vegetable to thicken the soup.
- If you want to keep it creamy, try adding potato flakes to thicken.
- Thicken with cornstarch. (This article gives you step by step ideas for using this method.)
How long can you keep ham and bean soup?
Ham and bean soup will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days if sealed well.
Can you freeze ham and bean soup?
Yes! You can freeze ham and bean soup both before and after cooking. If you freeze before cooking, be sure to soak the beans before freezing. Freeze for up to 3 months in a sealed container.
Other Soup Recipes
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 pound dry great northern beans
- 1 ham bone (with most of the meat off)
- water to add to ham broth (to equal a total of 6 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 stalk celery (sliced)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chopped ham
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (or black pepper)
Soak the Beans (plan ahead!):
- Place the beans in a 9x13 baking pan. Pour cool water over them so that the beans are covered. Allow the beans to sit in cool water at least 4 hours...but we let them go overnight. Then rinse them well before starting the soup.
Make the Ham Broth (plan ahead!):
- We like to do this step the day before we make the soup, but you can do it a few hours before, too.
- Place them ham bone in a large pot. It's ok if there is still some meat on it, but take off as much as you'd like for casseroles or sandwiches. Cover the bone with water (about 8 cups) and bring to a low boil. Simmer for anywhere from 1-3 hours. After the bone has simmered, remove and discard the bone. The remaining liquid is your ham broth and this is what you'll make soup with. You'll need 6 1/2 cups of broth for this soup recipe.
Make the Soup:
- Pour the 6 1/2 cups of ham broth (or gel if cooled) into a large soup pan. If you didn't get enough broth for 6 1/2 cups, add water or chicken broth to make enough for 6 1/2 cups.
- Add beans to the ham broth. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ground mustard and bay leaves.
- Simmer for another hour.
- Add the chopped ham and pepper.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.