Rosemary Ham and Bean Soup

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
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Rosemary Ham and Bean Soup is a healthy, hearty soup that you can prepare for lunches or light dinners. Everybody needs a flavorful, warm soup recipe to get through those cold winter days!

If you’d rather make ham and bean soup in the slow cooker, I have a recipe for that as well!

Why You’ll Love This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe

When the weather is cooler, there aren’t many recipes I love more than a cozy, savory, stick-to-your-ribs ham and bean soup. So, when I roasted one of Smithfield’s fabulous spiral hams not too long ago, I made sure to freeze the bone for the next chilly occasion.

Anyway, here’s why I think this will be one of your favorite soups to make during the winter season as well:

  • Full of flavor. Fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, savory garlic, and the simple combo of salt and pepper make every spoonful of this soup a delight.
  • Easy. Don’t let the cook time on this recipe scare you off – it’s so easy to make! Really, all that’s required of you is some occasional stirring and 5 minutes of prep work.
  • Perfect for make ahead meals. This ham and bean soup stores so well – you can make it and eat it all week for lunch, a couple of dinners, etc.!
Ingredients for ham and bean soup.

What You’ll Need

Let’s talk ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need to round up (exact amounts and the full directions can be found in the recipe card below):

  • Beans – I use a combination of Great Northern White Beans and navy beans for this soup recipe.
  • Water – For soaking the beans, and also for the base of the soup.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter, as this gives you more control over the saltiness (particularly with the ham).
  • Aromatics – Toss in some freshly minced garlic, as well as diced yellow onion and celery for flavor.
  • Ham Bone – This soup is the perfect excuse to use that leftover ham bone from your holiday roasts. A nice, meaty ham bone gives this soup loads of delicious flavor. Not to mention, the meatier the bone, the more small pieces of leftover ham that can find their way into the soup! Alternatively, you can use ham shanks or ham hocks for the smokiness.
  • Herbs – Keep it simple with freshly minced rosemary and thyme.
  • Chopped Ham – This is optional, for extra heartiness.
  • Salt & Pepper – Freshly ground black pepper is the way to go.

Which Kinds of Beans to Use

This recipe will work with any white beans that you can soak and boil. I use Great Northern beans as well as navy beans, however other kinds like cannellini beans (also known as white kidney beans) will also do the trick. This particular soup recipe will not work with canned beans, as they’ll overcook and become mushy.

Ham and bean soup ladled into a bowl.

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup

It may take a while to come together, but this ham and bean soup recipe could not be easier to make. Check out the basic steps below:

  • Soak the beans. Prepare the beans for soaking by bringing them to a boil. Remove them from the heat and leave them to soak, covered, for an hour before rinsing and setting them aside.
  • Sauté the aromatics. In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, and garlic. 
  • Combine and cook. Add in the ham bone and pre-soaked beans, along with the water. Bring everything to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat, and then cook the soup for at least an hour, or until the beans are tender.
  • Season the soup. Toss in the herbs, salt and pepper, and the additional chopped ham if you’re including it. Continue to let the soup cook for another half hour or so. Once the soup is finished cooking, discard the ham bone.
  • Serve and enjoy! Serve your soup hot with a side of warm, crusty French bread!
White and navy bean soup with ham in it.

How Do I Thicken My Ham and Bean Soup?

If you’re after a thicker soup, one trick is to puree or mash some of the beans as the soup nears the end of its cooking time. An immersion blender works great for this, otherwise use a potato masher. Just be careful not to over-blend the ingredients!

Another option is to leave the soup to simmer with the lid off for a while, to help the liquid reduce.

Ladle in a pot of bean soup.

Tips and Variation Ideas

Read through these quick tips, tricks, and variation ideas before you begin for the best results with your ham and bean soup!

  • Substitutions for a ham bone. If you don’t have a ham bone, a ham hock or ham shank are the next best substitutes (as mentioned earlier). If none of these options are available, you can also use a few strips or rashers of uncooked smoky bacon to flavor the broth instead.
  • Add veggies. Add in your favorite veggies towards the end of the cooking time for extra nutrition. Good options are kale, spinach, cabbage, peas, carrots, and zucchini. You can also cook potatoes, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes in the soup until they’re fork tender.
  • Make it spicy. Throw in a dash or two of hot sauce, or sprinkle in chili flakes for a hint of heat.
  • Add extra protein. In addition to leftover ham pieces, use leftover roast chicken or store-bought rotisserie to add even more protein and flavor to the ham and bean soup.
  • Use different herbs and spices. In addition to rosemary and thyme, you can include other fresh herbs like basil and oregano, or chives. You can also play with the flavors and toss in a sprinkle of nutmeg or smoked paprika.
Three bowls of bean soup with ham.

Can I Make This Soup Ahead?

Absolutely! This soup is wonderful to make ahead, store in the fridge/freezer, and reheat. The flavors and textures get better and better with time!

Serving Suggestions

Bean soup with ham can be served alongside so many different meals or side dishes. These are just a few of your options:

  • Bread: A nice loaf of buttery, crusty bread is perfect with a bowl of this soup! These buttermilk biscuits would be great, too.
  • Sandwiches: Adding a gooey grilled cheese sandwich into the mix makes this the best soup-and-sandwich combo.
  • Salad: Or, keep it light and pair your ham and bean soup with a healthy salad. This Greek salad would be just right!
Bean soup with a hunk of bread in it.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

This soup keeps really well. I love making a big batch of it at the start of a busy week to keep in the fridge for easy dinners!

  • To store. Simply seal the soup in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • To reheat. Reheat servings on the stove or in the microwave until warm.

Can I Freeze Ham and Bean Soup?

Yes! You can make larger batches of this soup to store frozen for up to 3-4 months, if you like. To freeze, let the soup cool completely and then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Thaw the soup overnight, or warm it from frozen on the stovetop on low, or in the microwave until heated through.

Spoonful of ham and bean soup.

More Soup Recipes

Looking for more easy soup recipes? You’re in the right place!

This post is sponsored by Smithfield Foods. I received compensation for my time and ham for recipe development. However as always, all opinions are my own. 

Bowl of ham and bean soup with fresh herbs.
4.8 from 4 votes
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Yield: 8

Rosemary Ham and Bean Soup

Rosemary ham and bean soup is packed with fresh herbs, tender beans, juicy ham, and more. It's the perfect meal for a cold winter day!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Additional Time1 hour
Total Time3 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Great Northern White Beans
  • 1 pound navy beans
  • Water for soaking
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 heaping cup chopped ham, optional
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground back pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. Add 16 cups hot water. Bring to a rapid boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Then drain and rinse beans, set aside.
  • In a large stockpot (I used a 12 quart stock pot) over medium high heat, melt butter. Add garlic, then cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and celery, cook till beginning to soften.
  • Add 12 cups water, ham bone and pre-soaked beans. Bring to boil and cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.
  • Add rosemary, chopped ham, salt, and pepper. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove ham bone and discard.
  • Serve hot with a hunk of warm french bread!

Notes

  • To store. Simply seal the soup in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • To reheat. Reheat servings on the stove or in the microwave until warm.
  • To freeze. You can make larger batches of this soup to store frozen for up to 3-4 months, if you like. Let the soup cool completely and then store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Thaw the soup overnight, or warm it from frozen on the stovetop on low, or in the microwave until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 268kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 924mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 3g

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.