This ham and white bean soup recipe is hearty, uses pantry staples, and is as simple and quick as it gets to make on the stovetop! It's the best way to use up leftover ham.
Why you'll love it
This ham and bean soup with canned beans is one of my favorite leftover ham recipes since it's super easy to throw together in no time. One pot, mostly hands-off, a few pantry ingredients, and you're good to go. It's also one of those cozy soups that gets better the longer you leave it. The flavors intensify, and it's even more tasty over time.
You don't even need to use leftover ham for this one and can just buy a piece from any grocery store deli counter, but if you've roasted one for Christmas or Easter, this is a great way to enjoy those leftovers if you're tired of sandwiches. Ok, grilled cheese and ham sandwiches are good, but this leftover ham soup is a little healthier than that. 😉
What you'll need
- Olive oil - for sautéing
- Onion, carrot, celery - a classic flavorful aromatic base for many soups. I like sweet (Vidalia) onion best, but yellow is fine.
- Garlic - use even more than suggested if you're a garlic lover. I like to mince it with a garlic press so there's no peeling or chopping needed.
- Italian seasoning - it's a versatile blend of dried herbs that comes in a single inexpensive jar. I use it to boost so many of my recipes.
- Smoked paprika - this sets it apart from other ham and bean soup recipes you may have tried! It infuses the broth with a delicate smoky, rich quality.
- Chicken broth - to add another layer of flavor. You can use low sodium instead if salt is a concern.
- Ham - I diced up leftover cooked ham for convenience
- White beans - a couple of cans of white kidney beans aka cannellini are always in my pantry to add more protein and creamy, nutty flavor to this soup
Do I need to use canned white beans?
- You can use whatever canned white beans that you've got on hand; e.g. great northern or navy beans instead of cannellini. It's a versatile recipe. For those who are curious, here's a guide to the different varieties of white beans. They're all pretty interchangeable in this soup.
- If you want to use dried beans, soak them overnight. Just cover them in water then rinse them off before adding them to the soup.
How to make ham and bean soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until lightly browned and softened. Stir in the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
Pour in the broth, and add the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Give it a taste, then season more if needed (but ham often has enough salt). Mash with a handheld masher or immersion blender if you want a thicker texture.
Can I make it in my Crockpot or Instant Pot?
- We like this ham and bean soup best on the stovetop, but for the slow cooker try 8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- In the Instant Pot, do 10 minutes on high pressure with a natural release.
Substitutions and variations
- Try swapping the Italian seasoning for 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme if you prefer, or use a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme. You could also throw a bay leaf or two in here for extra flavor.
- If you're sensitive to salt, use low sodium chicken broth or just water. Ham can be quite salty, so wait until the end and taste before adding any extra salt to this recipe.
- You can definitely throw a ham bone in here! That'll make it taste even better. Or use a ham hock.
What to serve with ham and bean soup
- I like to add a bit of chopped parsley for a little pop of freshness and contrast, but that's totally optional.
- For a soup and salad combo, I recommend mixed greens with my Homemade Ranch Dressing, or you could try this creative Winter Brussels Sprouts Slaw to change it up.
- A big slice of crusty buttered bread, cornbread, or Cheesy Garlic Bread are other comforting options.
Leftovers and storage
- Store leftover ham and bean soup in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- This soup freezes well. I like to keep it in individual containers for up to 3 months.
- Reheat on the stove over a low heat until warmed through, or microwave in short intervals.
Hope you enjoy this white bean and ham soup recipe! If the post didn't answer your questions, talk to me in the comments below or leave a review if you made it. You can also find me on Instagram.
Easy Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped finely
- 1 large carrot peeled & chopped small
- 3 sticks celery chopped small
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups cooked ham chopped (or more to taste)
- 2 (14 fluid ounce) cans white beans drained
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Sauté the onions, carrot, and celery for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally (a little browning is good).
- Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, chicken broth, water, ham, and white beans to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring it to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium (or medium low if it's bubbling too much), cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, and let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes (the flavor will intensify the longer you cook it so feel free to cook it for a bit longer).
- Season with salt & pepper to taste. Ham can be quite salty, so be sure to add salt after it's cooked if you think it needs it. Optional: Take a potato masher and mash some of the beans right in the pot to create a slightly thicker texture or pulse an immersion blender a few times.
- Use low-sodium chicken broth if sensitive to salt.
- Crockpot method: try 8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- Instant Pot method: try 10 minutes on high pressure with a natural release.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on December 19, 2017. It's been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!