Looking for a way to use a ham bone you have left over? Even if you don't have a bone, you can still make ham and bean soup. This is a soup that warms you up on a cold night. It is a very filling and hearty dinner.
I use the 16 bean, but the 15 bean would work too. When making this, throw away the ham seasoning that comes with the bean mix (some mixes come with it and some do not.) You will not need it unless you are using plain water instead of broth.
This is one of our favorites to make with the leftovers, but another great one to make (without beans) is ham and potato soup. When I make a big enough ham, I make both soups. You can freeze the meat and the bone freezes well too for another day so you don't have to make them both
Making ham and bean soup
This soup is very easy to make but will take a few hours if you are using a ham bone. It is mostly hands off for the time and has a wonderful flavor from the bone.
Prepping the beans
This is an important step! Not everybody soaks their beans, but I do recommend it. They cook better and it is supposed to help break down some of the things that cause gas and upset stomach from them. My biggest thing is I find they don't cook well if not soaked.
First you want to rinse them in cold water. Remove any debris that might be in there. Usually there isn't anything, but you might find a stem or even broken beans.
After rinsing, place them in a bowl with very cold water and leave them on the counter. I would keep them away from a source of heat during their soaking time. Let them soak for about 8 hours. Drain right before adding to the soup.
Cooking down the bone
If you are using just ham (no bone), you will want to use a chicken broth or even a vegetable broth in it's place and you will skip this part. I have made this soup with broth from boiling down bones from pork ribs too so there are options here!
As you see in the picture here, there is a decent amount of meat left on the bone. This is all to be put into the soup once cooked off and it is the stuff that isn't as easy to cut off but it will fall off once cooked long enough.
Pour a couple tablespoons of vinegar (any will do but we use apple cider vinegar) onto the bone, preferably by the ends. Let it sit in the stock pot for about 10 minutes before adding water. This helps to draw the good stuff out of the bones.
Depending on the size of the bone and the pot you are using, pour 15 cups of water over the bone. If you need a little more water to cover the bone, add a little more. You will need 10 cups of the broth for the soup but you need to add at least 14 since you will lose some of it with simmering. You can use the extra broth in the soup, you just need at least 10 cups.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least 4 hours, longer is ok just be mindful of needing at least 10 cups for the soup. Once done, strain and remove any ham from the bone to add to the soup. Set aside for a few minutes.
Putting the soup together
Return the stock pot to the burner (without broth) and turn the burner on to medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and heat it up. Once heated, add in the onions, celery and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add in the mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, broth and ham. Mix together and bring to a boil. Stir in the beans and reduce heat to a simmer. Throw the bay leaf on top and allow to simmer for about an hour, until the beans have softened. Remove the bay leaf and add in the diced tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat to serve.
We enjoy this ham and bean soup with the cheesy garlic biscuits and they are quick to make!
As a Note:
It is best to add the tomatoes at the end of the cooking time. The acid in the tomatoes can cause the beans to cook properly.
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 large ham bone see notes, you can substitute with broth
- 14-16 cups water only if using a ham bone, see notes
- 3 cups ham in bite sizes
- 3 tbsp olive oil or preferred oil
- 1 yellow onion large
- 2 celery sticks chopped
- 2 carrots sliced
- 4 brown baby bella mushrooms chopped, optional but recommended
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
- 16 oz 16 bean mix dried beans
- Beans need to soak in order to cook in the hour time frame. I do this in the morning and go about my day. Rinse the beans and remove any debris if there is any (stems or anything.) Place them in a bowl of very cold water and allow them to soak for around 8 hours on the counter.
- If using a ham bone, place the ham bone in a large stock pot and pour a couple tablespoons of vinegar over the bone and pour enough water to cover it, at least 14 cups of water. You will need 10 cups of finished broth. Alternatively you can use 10 cups of chicken broth.
- Bring the water and ham bone to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 4 hours. Strain and set aside until ready for it.
- In the stock pot, pour the olive oil and and heat it over medium heat. Once it is hot add in the onions, carrots and celery. Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and mushrooms. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add in broth, Italian seasoning, ham and the beans. DO NOT add the tomatoes yet. Stir well and place the bay leaf on top. Cook for about an hour or until the beans are to a desired texture.
- Once the beans are cooked, remove the bay leaf and add in the can of tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes and it is ready to serve.Enjoy!