Ham and Bean Soup (Stove Top, Slow Cooker, or Instant Pot!)

This hearty ham and bean soup is a perfect recipe for the Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Stove Top. It’s made with navy beans and delicious bites of ham in a thick and flavorful broth!

In need of recipes for leftover ham? Try these next! Split Pea Soup  | Ham Casserole with Broccoli and Rice| Scalloped Potatoes and Ham|Ham and Cheese Quiche

A wooden spoon scooping up ham and bean soup from a pot of soup.

Ham and Bean Soup

Let me tell you, this has to be one of the most satisfying soup recipes there is. It’s hearty, thick, flavorful, and super easy to make in the Crock Pot, Instant Pot, or Stove Top! (and there’s no need to rinse those dried beans overnight, see more info on that below!)

This is such an economical meal too. It freezes perfectly and use a great way to make use of leftover ham!

Let’s get into it, shall we?

Ingredients

The bottom of this post also contains recipe card with ingredients and full instructions.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups ham, diced. (equal to two 8 oz. ham steaks.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • ham bone, see below for substitution options
  • 1 lb. dried Navy beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Birds eye view of ingredients on a white surface for making ham and bean soup.

☝️ The bacon pictured above is an optional garnish.

How To Make It (Stove Top Method)

See recipe card below this post for Crock Pot and Instant Pot instructions.

Rinse the beans under cold water. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the carrots, diced ham and the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Sauteed onions in a pot next to a pot with diced carrots, ham, and garlic.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

A pot of ham and bean soup with a ham bone being brought to a boil.

Simmer with the lid partially cracked for 2 hours, or until it’s thickened to your desired consistency. Stir occasionally as the beans will settle to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the ham bone/hock, the bay leaves, and thyme stems. Serve and enjoy!

A pot of Ham and Bean soup before and after simmering and thickening.

Using a Ham Bone

Using a nice meaty, uncleaned ham bone is what gives this soup it’s amazingly rich and savory flavor.

The more meat on the ham bone, the better. Bits of tender ham will work it’s way into the soup.

Ham Bone Substitutes

Smoked ham shanks or ham hocks are a great alternative and also add tremendous flavor. (A shank is meatier and more preferable for this recipe.)

Salted pork and/or a few strips of uncooked smoked bacon can also be substituted. (But try for a shank or hock first.)

If you’re unable to use a ham bone or any of the substitutes: Use 8 cups of chicken broth instead of 4.

Soaking Navy Beans Overnight

  • The necessity of soaking beans overnight is a widely debated topic. After some research and testing, I’ve found that soaking navy beans overnight makes little difference in texture and cooking time. 
  • Soaking beans overnight has been said to aid in digestion as it removes some of the sugars from the beans.
  • Huff Post provides more information about soaking your beans overnight and why it might not be necessary.

Using Different Kinds of Dried Beans

  • Dry Pinto Beans, Great Northern Beans, or a bag of 15-Bean Mix can also be used.

Using Canned Beans

  • Although canned beans are a time-saver, you won’t achieve the same depth of flavor in the broth as you do with dry beans. The broth also won’t be nearly as thick.
  • Dry beans are also less expensive and don’t have added sodium as canned.

What to Serve with Ham and Bean Soup

Storing Leftovers

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. This soup does freeze and reheat well.

Try These Next

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A wooden bowl full of ham and bean soup with a spoon.

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A wooden spoon full of thick and hearty Ham and Bean Soup.

Ham and Bean Soup

5 from 16 votes
This hearty ham and bean soup is a perfect recipe for the Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Stove Top. It's made with navy beans and delicious bites of ham and carrots in a thick and flavorful broth!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups ham, diced. (equal to two 8 oz. ham steaks.)
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ham bone, see notes for alternatives
  • 1 lb. dried Navy beans, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Instructions

Stove Top

  • Rinse the beans under cold water.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onions.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  • Add the carrots, diced ham and the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the chicken broth, water, ham bone, navy beans, 2 tsp onion powder, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer with the lid partially cracked for 2 hours, or until it's thickened to your desired consistency. Stir occasionally as the beans will settle to the bottom of the pot.
  • Remove the ham bone/hock, the bay leaves, and thyme stems. Serve and enjoy!
  • *Add a little additional water if the soup ends up thicker than you’d like.

Slow Cooker

  • Rinse the navy beans under cold water. Add all of the ingredients to a large Slow Cooker (5 quarts or larger).
  • Cook on low for 9+ hours or on high for 5+ hours. It's ready to serve once the beans are tender and the soup is thickened to your desired consistency.
  • Remove the ham bone/hock, the bay leaves, and thyme stems and serve!

Instant Pot

  • Rinse the navy beans under cold water.
  • Add the olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot and hit the “Sautee” button. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the diced ham and the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and secure the lid.
  • Press the ‘cancel’ button, followed by the ‘Pressure Cook’ button.
  • Set the timer to 45 minutes. The Instant Pot will take some time to get up to pressure.
  • Once finished, let 10 minutes pass before you trigger the quick release valve. This will allow most of the pressure to release naturally, allowing the soup to cook a little bit longer.
  • Remove the ham bone/hock, the bay leaves, and thyme stems and serve!

Notes

Ham Bone Substitutes

Smoked ham shanks or ham hocks are a great alternative and also add tremendous flavor. (A shank is meatier and more preferable for this recipe.)
Salted pork and/or a few strips of uncooked smoked bacon can also be substituted. (But try for a shank or hock first.)
If you're unable to use a ham bone or any of the substitutes: Use 8 cups of chicken broth instead of 4.

If you enjoy this recipe, then you have to try my split pea soup recipe. (It's also Stove Top, Slow Cooker, and Instant Pot friendly!)

Nutrition

Calories: 212kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Sodium: 540mg, Potassium: 607mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 3324IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 2mg