Ham & Bean Soup is a classic soup recipe that’s hearty, satisfying, and full of flavor. It’s so easy to make and freezes beautifully, meaning it’s perfect for meal prep!
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Whether you call it Ham & Bean Soup or simply ham and beans, this is the kind of soup that everyone knows and has their own unique twist they put on it —like chicken noodle soup, pea soup, or potato soup.
This version is my family’s favorite Ham and Bean Soup! It’s hearty, filling, and super flavorful, with smoky ham and tender white beans. And I love it because it’s so easy! Serve it with cornbread, and you’re good to go.
Classic Ham & Bean Soup Recipe
If you’re looking for an easy recipe for Ham & Bean Soup, this is the one! It comes together quickly. Plus, it tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge, meaning it’s perfect for meal prep! I always make a big batch and freeze individual portions in flat freezer bags so we can enjoy it all winter long!
Because the recipe calls for cooked ham, it’s great to make when you have leftovers after a holiday. (I’ve successfully used my Crock Pot Ham in this soup and it works out perfectly!) Or, if your grocery store has ham steaks on sale, buy an extra, cook them both, and serve one for dinner the first night with scalloped potatoes. Then, reserve the other one for making soup the next day.
You can also go to the deli section at the grocery store, and get the ham there if you don’t want to cook it yourself. That makes an easy recipe even easier!
Ingredients For Ham & Bean Soup
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Olive oil
- Onion – White or yellow both work.
- Cooked ham – Diced ham or shredded.
- Chicken stock – If you happen to have ham stock (from simmering a leftover ham bone or ham hocks) on hand, you can use that instead. Chicken broth works too, but you’ll need to add less salt to the recipe.
- Bay leaf
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Cannellini beans – Drain and rinse the beans before adding them to your soup.
- Salt & black pepper
How to Make Ham & Bean Soup
- Sauté the vegetables and ham: Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. Stir in the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for about a minute or until it’s fragrant. Add the ham. Then, cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Simmer: Pour in the chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir in the beans, and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve: Remove the bay leaf from the pot, and season to taste before serving. Ladle into bowls, and enjoy!
If your soup is too thin, you can thicken it by puréeing some of the beans in a blender or food processor and stirring them back into the soup. Alternatively, you can remove some of the soup from the pot and whisk in a few tablespoons of flour until it’s smooth. Then, stir the mixture back into the pot for a thicker soup.
How to Store Ham & Bean Soup
This soup can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. If you’re freezing it, I recommend portioning it out into individual freezer bags so you can defrost and reheat only as much as you need.
When you’re ready to eat, simply defrost the soup in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat it on the stove over medium heat until it’s warmed through. Or, warm individual portions in the microwave. You may need to add a splash of water or broth if the soup is too thick!
I like to keep it simple with just thyme and a bay leaf, but you could also add some smoked paprika or even a little cayenne pepper if you want a bit of heat. Other herbs that work well in this soup include rosemary and sage; you can use fresh sprigs or dried herbs.
Yes, you can! Soak 1 cup of dried beans overnight in water. Then, rinse and drain them before adding them to the soup. You will need to cook the soup for a bit longer (and cover the pot) if you’re using dried beans.
I usually use cannellini beans, because they’re tender and creamy. However, you could also use great northern beans, navy beans, or even kidney beans.
Ham & Bean Soup
- Sharp knife
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups cooked ham shredded or diced
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 (15oz) cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- salt & black pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the ham and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring.2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 medium carrot, 2 stalks celery, 2 cloves garlic, 2 cups cooked ham
- Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the beans. Stir to combine. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste.2 quarts chicken stock, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 3 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, salt & black pepper to taste