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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!

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!

Ingredients

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 (Summary of Stove Top Method)

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions, including 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.

Cooking onions in a soup pot and adding carrots and ham.

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

Adding a ham bone to ham and bean soup and bringing it to a boil.

Simmer with the lid partially cracked for 3+ hours, or until it’s thickened to your desired consistency. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will become and the softer the beans will get. Stir occasionally as the beans will settle to the bottom of the pot. (PRO Tip: Consider adding the carrots during the last 40-45 minutes of cooking for a firmer consistency.)

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

A soup pot filed with Ham and Bean Soup when it's almost done and when it's done.

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

  • I rinse, but I don’t soak, and you don’t need to for this recipe.
  • 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.

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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

4.97 from 54 ratings
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 3+ hours, or until it's thickened to your desired consistency. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will become and the softer the beans will get. Stir occasionally as the beans will settle to the bottom of the pot. (PRO Tip: Consider adding the carrots during the last 40-45 minutes of cooking for a firmer consistency.)
  • Remove the ham bone/hock, the bay leaves, and thyme stems. Serve and enjoy!
  • *Add a little additional water or broth if the soup ends up thicker than you’d like.

Slow Cooker

  • Note: Crock Pots can vary greatly in terms of heat. Refrain from opening the lid during cooking to ensure the beans have enough heat to cook down in a sufficient amount of time. Note that high altitudes also require more cooking time.
  • Rinse the navy beans under cold water. Add all of the ingredients to a large Slow Cooker (5 quarts or larger).
  • Cook on high for 6+ 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.) Bacon also makes a nice optional garnish on top of this soup prior to serving.
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
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139 comments on “Ham and Bean Soup (Stove Top, Slow Cooker, or Instant Pot!)”

  1. I made this tonight with Easter ham that I had in the freezer. I added a touch of yellow curry powder. Delish!

  2. I added cabbage. Coriander powder. Smoked paprika. Cumin. Hot pepper. And used more garlic. Soooo good. 

  3. Can u use beef broth instead of chicken?

  4. Would a Pork Hock work for this recipe?

  5. Do you add the olive oil to the crockpot as well??

    • Hi Kristi! Yes, you would add it to the crock pot as well- you can skip it, but I follow suit with my pea soup recipe when I make this and I add it all! 🙂

      • Thank you😊 how does the soup get thick and in the picture it look orange like. Like its creamy. Do I have to add flour or anything to make it like that? Thank you so much:)

      • Hi Kristi! That happens as the beans break down, they become an orange-brown and they are what end up thickening the soup, no flour needed! 🙂

  6. If you don’t use the alternative and are adding 8cups chicken broth do you still add 4cups water?

  7. Simple and delicious!!!

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