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Ham and Beans Recipe

Ham and Beans is a scrumptiously savory soup and cold-weather comfort food. My ham and beans recipe is SO easy to make and it’s an affordable and healthy way to serve a delicious dinner.

Ham and Beans in a white bowl.
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When the budget is tight and you need a nutrient-rich, filling, and delicious idea for dinner, you need an excellent ham and bean soup recipe you can fall back on.

My ham and beans are delectably satisfying and I know you’ll enjoy eating and sharing this recipe.

A pot of good old-fashioned ham and beans takes very few ingredients. And your hands-on time to prepare them is very short. They will happily bubble on the stove until dinnertime with very little intervention from you.

The Ingredients

Ingredients for Ham and Beans recipe. Great Norhtern Beans, Vegetable Stock, Herbs, Veggies and Cured Pork neck Bones.
  • Dried Great Northern Beans (sorted, rinsed and soaked)
  • Smoked Pork Neck Bones (or ham hocks, or leftover ham bone)
  • Vegetable Broth (or Chicken Broth or water)
  • Red Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Minced Garlic
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Bay Leaves
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • optional: leftover ham (cut into bite-size pieces) and apple cider vinegar

Smoked Pork Neck Bones vs Ham Hocks

Ham hocks are mostly bone and fat with some tendons. Hocks are the joints in the ankle area of the hog’s leg. They honestly have very little if any meat. They are typically smoked, like a ham and most often used to add flavor to broth and soups that will simmer for a good length of time.

Smoked Neck Bones on a styrofoam tray next to ham hocks on a styrofoam tray.

Smoked Pork Neck Bones are exactly what they sound like. Neck bones from the hog. They usually have a little more meat and less fat than hocks. Though the meat is still not a lot.

Pork Neck Bones can be purchased plain or smoked. And the smoked ones aren’t as easy to find. So, when I see them I usually grab a package or two or three to stick in the freezer.

The cost was essentially the same. The neck bones were $2.97/lb, while the ham hocks were $2.98. I would use roughly 2 lbs. of either one to flavor the broth for ham and bean soup.

My personal experience has been that I get much deeper, richer broth when using smoked neck bones than ham hocks. So, when I’m making ham and bean soup the smoked pork neck bones will always be my first choice.

That being said, I have made this delectable ham and beans recipe with ham hocks, too. And either one makes a wonderful soup broth. I just think the flavor from the neck bones can be extracted more quickly than from the hocks.

Ham and Beans recipe in a white bowl.

What about a Leftover Ham Bone?

I am one of those people that never buys a bone-in ham. So, I can’t speak to using a leftover ham bone from personal experience.

However, it is a great way to maximize the value of what you spend on ham to turn around and use the bone for broth. It’s just plain smart money sense. And there are those who swear by its flavor.

So, that gives three great options for flavoring your bean soup broth — smoked pork neck bones, smoked ham hocks or a leftover ham bone.

All will provide smoky, satisfying flavor.

Ham and Beans in a white bowl.

Choosing the Beans

You can use any white bean that you and your family love. The most important part is to choose dry beans for this ham and beans recipe.

The beans need to be able to cook long enough for you to extract maximum flavor from the bones in your broth. The beans will soak up all that savory goodness.

Canned beans would cook to mush before the soup was fully ready. Plus, by using dry beans you will save LOTS of money and have more control over your ingredients, especially salt.

I use Great Northern Beans when I can find them. I like the size and that the beans get tender while still holding their shape. Great Northern Beans are earthy and nutty in flavor. It cost me $1.36 for one pound of dry beans.

Navy beans are excellent in ham and beans, too. They are slightly smaller than Great Northern Beans and oval-shaped instead of bean-shaped. They have a much milder, almost neutral flavor. And the cost is the same.

Dried great Northern Beans soaked overnight and ready to use in soup.

Why Do You Soak Beans?

The main reason to soak beans is to help them cook more quickly and evenly.

Soaking can also help to break down some of the oligosaccharides in the beans. That makes them easier to digest and may help prevent the gas often associated with eating beans.

I used the Long Soak Method. I sorted through my dry beans and made sure there were no rocks or pieces of field debris in the bag. That’s easiest to do on a flat surface like the kitchen counter or a cookie sheet.

Then I gave the beans a quick rinse and placed them in a large mixing bowl. I covered the beans with boiling water and allowed them to sit for about four hours. Then I snapped on a lid and left them in the fridge overnight.

To learn more about soaking beans, how to soak them in just one hour and all three safe soaking methods visit the WebMD website for more info.

How to Make Ham and Bean Soup

  1. Sort and rinse the dry beans. Watch for pebbles and field debris and discard any that you find.

Soaking the Beans

  1. Bring the beans to a boil in about 8 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, shut off the heat and allow the beans to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. (Short Soak Method). Or allow the beans to soak for four hours. (Hot Soak Method.) Or allow the beans to soak at room temperature for four hours, cover, and refrigerate overnight or until ready to use. (Long Soak Method)

Assembling the Ham and Beans Recipe

  1. Mince the onion, celery, and carrots very finely. I actually use my food processor to quickly grind them. (I like them small enough that they will mostly melt away into the broth. If your family likes bigger pieces of veggies in their soup, you can certainly use larger pieces. However, after three hours of cooking to flavor the broth, they will be VERY soft and won’t have much flavor left in them. I choose tinier pieces so the flavor goes straight into the broth and the veggie fiber just melts into the ham and bean soup.)
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
  3. Place soaked beans, smoked pork neck bones, minced veggies, minced garlic, bay leaves, and fresh thyme in a soup pot with vegetable broth or water. (I didn’t have any homemade vegetable broth ready the day I made my Ham and Beans recipe, so I used boxed broth from the store and the bean soup was still spectacular.)
Adding broth to the stock pot with pork neck bones, beans, veggies and hebs.
  1. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for three hours or until beans are tender.
  2. Remove the smoked pork neck bones (or ham hocks) along with the fresh thyme stems and bay leaves. Discard them.
  3. Taste the soup. Add salt and pepper now, if it’s needed. Oftentimes, it isn’t as the ham is already salty.
  4. If the budget is tight, stop here and your soup will be fantastic! Serve it and enjoy the savory deliciousness.

Finishing Touches

  1. However, if you have leftover ham in the fridge or freezer like I try to do, now is the time to add it. Cut it into bite-size pieces, add it to the pot, and allow the delicious bean soup broth to warm it through.
  2. And the finishing touch is 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Again, the vinegar is not required, but it brings a nice acidic balance to the rich soup broth.
Ham and Bean Soup in a white bowl.

The Recipe

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Ham and Beans Recipe served in a white bowl.

Ham and Beans Recipe


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

An easy, delicious ham and beans recipe that will warm & comfort on chilly nights.  Ham and Bean Soup is a budget-friendly and healthful meal that is easy to make and loved by everyone.  Allow time to soak the beans and three hours of hands-off cook time.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb. Dried Great Northern Beans (sorted, rinsed and soaked)
  • 2 lbs. Smoked Pork Neck Bones (or ham hocks, or leftover ham bone)
  • 2 quarts Vegetable Broth (or Chicken Broth or water)
  • 1 large Red Onion
  • 3 large Carrots
  • 2 Large stalks Celery
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 5 to 6 stems 2 Fresh Thyme
  • Bay Leaves
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • optional: leftover ham (cut into bite-size pieces) and apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Sort and Soak the Dry Beans

  1. Sort and rinse the dry beans. Watch for pebbles and field debris and discard any that you find.
  2. Bring the beans to a boil in about 8 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, shut off the heat and allow the beans to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. (Short Soak Method). Or allow the beans to soak for four hours. (Hot Soak Method.) Or allow the beans to soak at room temperature for four hours, cover, and refrigerate overnight or until ready to use. (Long Soak Method)

Assemble the Ham and Beans Recipe

 

  1. Mince the onion, celery, and carrots very finely. I actually use my food processor to quickly grind them. (I like them small enough that they will mostly melt away into the broth. If your family likes bigger pieces of veggies in their soup, you can certainly use larger pieces. However, after three hours of cooking to flavor the broth, they will be VERY soft and won’t have much flavor left in them. I choose tinier pieces so the flavor goes straight into the broth and the veggie fiber just melts into the ham and bean soup.)
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
  3. Place soaked beans, smoked pork neck bones, minced veggies, minced garlic, bay leaves, and fresh thyme in a soup pot with vegetable broth or water. (I didn’t have any homemade vegetable broth ready the day I made my Ham and Beans recipe, so I used boxed broth from the store and the bean soup was still spectacular.)
  4. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for three hours or until beans are tender.
  5. Remove the smoked pork neck bones (or ham hocks) along with the fresh thyme stems and bay leaves. Discard them.
  6. Taste the soup. Add salt and pepper now, if it’s needed. Oftentimes, it isn’t as the ham is already salty.
  7. If the budget is tight, stop here and your soup will be fantastic! Serve it and enjoy the savory deliciousness.
  8. However, if you have leftover ham in the fridge or freezer like I try to do, now is the time to add it. Cut it into bite-size pieces, add it to the pot, and allow the delicious bean soup broth to warm it through.
  9. And the finishing touch is 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Again, the vinegar is not required, but it brings a nice acidic balance to the rich soup broth.
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Soak Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Soup, Main Dish, Pork
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

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glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

10 thoughts on “Ham and Beans Recipe”

  1. It’s been really warm where we live and cutting into our fall weather. We finally had a nice cold day and I made this recipe – pure comfort! It’s hearty, delicious, easy to make, and everyone felt warm and happy after a bowl or two. I’ll be saving this recipe to make through the winter!






    Reply
  2. It’s finally cooled off a bit here and that was such a comforting and satisfying meal. I added the ham hocks and that added SO much flavor. Thanks for all the tips.






    Reply
  3. This soup was so delicious! I always buy a bone-in ham so I did use it in the soup. It really does add a lot of flavor. I normally make split pea soup with the ham bone but this will be added to the regular rotation!






    Reply

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