How to Make Ham and Bean Soup from Scratch – Old School
This ham and bean soup is perfect for using leftover ham and ham soup stock.
Also Read: Homemade Vegetable Soup Stock, What You Need to Know When Making Soup, How to Make Stock from Cooked Chicken, How to Make Stock from Raw Chicken
This soup is a throwback to my childhood. Sunday night dinners were either a big roast chicken from our own flock or a gigantic picnic ham – one of the most affordable cuts of pork with plenty of bones for making tasty ham stock. The rest of the week was all about eating the leftovers including this soup with ham, beans and cabbage.
By the way, if you ever get confused about the different type of hams available – and there are many – check out this article by Spruce Eats on Types of Ham.
Now, let’s get to the recipe!
Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 celery stalks, diced save leaves for garnish
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 tsp dried
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 4 cups ham stock or use veggie or chicken soup stock
- 1/2 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
- 1 can diced tomatoes 398 ml or 14 oz
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups cabbage sliced or diced
- 2 cups cooked cubed ham
- 1 can white beans (any kind), drained and rinsed 540 ml or 19 oz
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper as desired
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp celery leaves, dill, parsley or green onions to garnish
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot.
- Cook onion, garlic, celery and carrots until slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Stir in tomato paste, thyme and oregano cook for 1 minute until herbs become fragrant.
- Add soup stock, vinegar, tomatoes, bay leaves and cabbage, scraping off any browned bits. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15 to 25 minutes.
- Add ham, beans, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and black pepper.
- Remove from heat. Garnish with celery leaves, parsley, dill or chopped green onions.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Variations to This Soup
What’s a soup without variations! Seriously, soup recipes are just intended to be guidelines – each pot of soup should be slightly different to capture the time of year, the type of meat, stock and ingredients you have available.
If you have leftover peas, corn, cauliflower, broccoli or other vegetables from your ham dinner, consider adding them to the pot. Assuming these leftover veggies are already fully cooked, you can add them with the ham and beans so they just heat through.
Last time I made this, I had some leftover salsa in the fridge. I added it to the soup and skipped the vinegar called for in the recipe. I figured the salsa had plenty of acid in it. It tasted fantastic.
In early summer, this soup would be perfect with a handful of fresh dill. But at that time of year, cabbage may be a little more scarce so use kale, spinach or swiss chard to add some greens to your soup. Because these require less cooking time than cabbage, add them with the ham and beans towards the end of the cooking time.
And if you happen to be out of beans but you have plenty of potatoes, use them instead. Add diced raw potatoes with the carrots and cauliflower. They’ll ensure this is a nice filling soup.
Do you have any favorite variations to soup?
What to Serve with Ham and Bean Soup
A delicious broth soup like this deserves some nice bread or biscuits to go with it. Even better than the fancy marble rye bread shown in the photos is something homemade. Consider…
Cottage Cheese No Knead Dill Bread
How do you like your soup? Do you add extra veggies? What are your favorite seasonings? I’d love to hear about your variations. And of course, if you’re on social media – tag me with any photos so I can see it and like it. I’m on instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.