Ham and Bean Soup

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I made an 8-pound ham for the three of us for Christmas dinner. Needless to say, I have more ham than I know what to do with. After eating plates and plates of sliced ham and leftover sides, I decided we needed to change it up a bit. I tried a ham and peas tortellini dish that needs a lot of improvement so I’ll share that once I’ve worked out the kinks. For now, we’re going straight to comfort food: Soup.

I got all ambitious and made my own ham broth, but that’s completely not necessary. I only did this because I had a ham bone and making broth is super simple to make in the Instant Pot. Here’s what you do. Take the meat bones (ham, chicken, turkey, anything really) and stick it in an Instant Pot along with chopped carrots, celery, and onions. Throw in some peppercorns if you have them and a bay leaf. Cover with water. Cook on high for 60 minutes and natural release. Done. Let it cool, strain all the stuff out, bag it in 2 cup servings, and freeze flat.

Now back to the soup. The base of the soup is from a recipe on the back of a bean package, but I made it better by adding ham and using broth instead of water. Always use broth or stock when you are making soups. Water just isn’t going to cut it if you want the depth of flavor. I don’t cook soup all day so using broth really makes the difference.

The hardest part is remembering to soak your beans overnight. I completely forgot so I soaked them all day instead. It was all good, but I was a little nervous there for a moment. I used cannellini beans because that’s what I had, but you can use any (pandemic) beans you happen to have.

Gather your ingredients. Rinse your beans in cold water and drain. Chop up everything that needs chopping.

Ham and Bean soup

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat up some olive oil and saute your chopped veggies. Throw in some garlic powder (because you completely forgot to mince up some garlic…hey I’m not perfect, but try to use minced garlic instead) and a little black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes so the onion is softened.

Ham and Bean soup

Add chopped ham and mix it around a bit, cooking for a few minutes.

Ham and Bean soup

Then, add beans and 5 cups of broth. You can use more or less broth. Start with 5 cups and if you want your soup to be thinner, add more broth at the end.

Ham and Bean soup

Bring the whole thing to a boil and then reduce the heat until it’s simmering, which on my stove is the lowest setting. Cover and cook for a couple of hours. The longer you cook it, the creamier it’ll get. I was too impatient for that so cooked the soup until the beans were tender. Before serving, add more broth if you want. Taste it. Add salt and pepper if it needs it. Usually, I salt sooner, but the ham is already salty so you want to be careful not to over salt it. Serve in bowls and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on top because like bacon, everything’s better with cheese.

Ham and Bean soup

I really like how this recipe is simple, healthy, and comforting. Nothing beats a hot bowl of homemade soup on a cold winter day. Sorry canned soups. This is much better.

Ham and Bean Soup

Servings 4


  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups ham broth or other type of broth such as chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 pound chopped ham
  • salt to taste
  • grated Parmesan


  • Soak beans overnight in a bowl with at least 3 cups of water. Rinse beans with cold water and drain.
  • In a dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes until onions are softened.
  • Add ham and saute for another 5 minutes or until ham starts to cook a bit.
  • Add drained beans and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 90 minutes or longer, until the beans are soft and the soup is as creamy as you want it. The longer you cook the soup, the creamier it will be. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
  • Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve with a little grated Parmesan on top.
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