Slow Cooker Ham And Bean Soup – This cozy crock pot ham bean soup is the perfect way to use up leftover ham from the holidays! You’ll love the flavor.
It may be a basic cliche, but I’m allll the way in for soup season. You, too? From classic chicken noodle soup and tomato basil soup, to cozy squash soup or hearty black bean soup, I just can’t get enough this time of year.
And, with the holidays ahead of us (and leftover holiday ham) on the horizon, this slow cooker ham & bean soup recipe is the perfect combination of everything I’m looking for at the moment. An easy dinner, a great way to use ham leftovers AND a yummy soup all in one? Count me all the way in!
Best of all, you only need a few simple ingredients to pack MAJOR flavor into the soup!
Here’s what you need to make this healthy slow cooker soup recipe…
This Crock Pot Ham & Bean Soup Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You need To Make This Healthy Slow Cooker Soup:
- Dried Great Northern Beans. My favorite are these beans from Camellia. These dry white beans have a creamy texture and neutral flavor that works well in a slow cooker soup. If you can’t find great northern beans, navy beans or other white beans are a good substitute. I don’t recommend a 10-bean mix if it contains kidney beans, as kidney beans aren’t considered safe to slow cook.
- A Meaty Ham Bone Or Diced Ham. This is the perfect use for a leftover ham bone or ham leftovers from an Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas ham! Or, you can buy ham or a ham hock/ham shank to use just for this. (Even some cooked, crisped bacon can work!)
- Onion, Carrots And Celery. This trio of veggies known as mirepoix adds a delicious savory base of flavor.
- Garlic. A few cloves of garlic season the soup as it simmers in the slow cooker. I’ve been buying frozen minced garlic lately that works like a charm! (the only ingredient is garlic!)
- Dried Herbs. A little dried rosemary and a bay leaf infuse another layer of flavor. Use fresh rosemary if you have it, but dry works great here!
- Chicken Bone Broth. Use the best quality broth that works for your budget. I’m using chicken bone broth, which tends to have more protein and more depth of flavor than traditional chicken broth, but you can also substitute other broth, like vegetable broth. (Bone broth adds even more protein to the soup!)
- Salt & Pepper. Added at the end, these basic seasonings pull the flavors together. Depending on how salty your ham is, you may add more or less than I suggest below. Trust your tastebuds!
- Fresh Herbs (If You Want). Last, but not least, a pretty pop of green from some fresh parsley adds vibrant fresh flavor to this hearty ham and bean soup. (You could certainly use thyme or rosemary instead!)
How To MAke Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup, Step By Step:
- In Advance, Soak The Beans. For the best results, soak the beans in advance. Sort through the dry beans and remove any that are shriveled, broken, or irregularly colored. Rinse the beans in a colander, then transfer to a large bowl. Cover the beans completely with several inches of water. Refrigerate in the bowl for 4-12 hours or so (I leave mine overnight). Then, drain and rinse them, and they’re ready to use!
- Add Ingredients To The Slow Cooker. Add the ham bone to the crock of your slow cooker. If you haven’t already, drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker, along with onion, carrots, and celery. Add garlic, dried rosemary, and bay leaf. Cover with bone broth and gently stir to combine.
- Cover & Cook. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on HIGH for about 4-5 hours for a more broth-y soup or 6-8 hours for a creamier/thicker soup (the beans will be tender after 4-5 hours if you’ve soaked them beforehand, but the longer it cooks, the creamier the soup gets). If you haven’t soaked your beans or they’re old, they may require more time.
- Taste & Adjust. When the soup is done cooking, remove the bay leaf. Shred or dice the ham from the ham bone and return to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh parsley. (If the soup needs a little something, add 1 teaspoon cider vinegar)
- Serve & Store. Scoop into bowls and serve warm. Feel free to freeze leftovers for another day–this soup will keep in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer for up to 2 months.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Crock Pot Ham And Bean Soup:
Do You Have To Soak The Beans? Soaking beans beforehand shortens the cooke time and makes the beans easier to digest. I highly recommend taking the time to do this the night before for the best texture and fastest cook times.
What If I Forgot To Soak The Beans? Use the quick soaking method! To quick soak, put the beans in a large soup pot and cover with 2 inches of water (2 inches above the level of the beans). Bring to a boil, and boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let them soak for about an hour. Drain and rinse them in a colander, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
How To Thicken Bean Soup. If you want your soup more brothy, you can stop cooking it as soon as the beans are cooked through. (It’ll just take 3-4 hours on high.) For thicker bean soup, cook longer, so the beans begin to break down. Or, mash some of the beans into the soup.
Extras To Try. If you want to experiment with other flavors in this soup, a few of my favorite variations are adding a little fresh thyme, or a parmesan cheese rind. Or, you can add even more smokiness with a pinch of smoked paprika. (A little goes a long way!)