This White Bean Soup with Ham and Vegetables is a lighter, brothier version of traditional bean soup recipes.
I’ve grown up eating thick and hearty bean soups, which I’ve always enjoyed. But last winter, Terry ordered ham and bean soup in a local restaurant that was more brothy than thick. The broth in the soup was clearly ham-based and was delightfully smoky. This white bean and ham soup is my attempt to replicate that delicious soup.
I made the ham stock and canned several jars of it ahead of time. If canning isn’t your jam, you can freeze it as well. You can find the easy ham stock recipe here.
the beans (dried, soaked, or canned)
Because I use dried Cannellini Beans in this recipe, they must be boiled for 30 minutes to eliminate the chemical Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) if you are cooking this soup in the slow cooker or crock pot. PHA can cause vomiting, nausea, and stomach pains. It is not present in all beans but is present in Red Kidney Beans, White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans), and Broad Beans.
So, after soaking your beans, boil them in fresh water for at least 30 minutes. Typically, the toxin is destroyed when boiled at 200ºF for 10 minutes, but scientists recommend 30 minutes to ensure the beans reach the proper temperature for the requisite time.
If you’d rather avoid them altogether, consider Navy beans or Great Northern Beans.
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If you want a nice dice with your vegetables, you may want to put an Alligator Chopper on your wish list. They aren’t inexpensive, but they are well-made, effective, and very easy to use. I don’t use it every day, but when I have a lot of chopping, I bring it out. Or when I want a nice fine dice, it’s really perfect for that. It was perfect for getting a nice dice on the veggies for this ham bean soup and I also use it when I make this Shrimp Salsa and this Apple Bread.
cook this white bean soup in the slow cooker, the instant pot, or the stovetop
The recipe below gives the instructions to make this soup on the stovetop, but you can also make it in either your slow cooker or your instant pot.
slow cooker directions
In a Slow Cooker, follow steps one through four. Once all combined, transfer the sautéed vegetables and herbs to your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, except the ham. Cook on low for six to eight hours until the beans are tender. Start checking for doneness after six hours. Add ham to rewarm it before serving.
instant pot directions
In an Instant Pot, use the sauté feature to follow steps one through four. Add the remaining ingredients, except the ham. Place the lid on top, lock it, and ensure the top rear valve points to ‘Sealing.’ Press ‘Manual’/’Pressure Cook’, ‘HIGH’ pressure, and set for 10 minutes.
The pressure build-up will take about 7-10 minutes, then it will cook for another 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes are up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 20-25 minutes. If you find that the beans are not tender, repeat the cooking process for another 2 minutes. Add the ham to rewarm it before serving.
that smoky flavor
So, I’m always striving to avoid added and unnecessary chemicals to my food and body. Two of the chemicals I avoid are Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites. Unfortunately, it is darned hard to find smoked ham or ham hocks without sodium nitrates or nitrites. Whole Foods does sell cured ham hocks without nitrates/nitrites, but they aren’t necessarily smoked.
But, it is pretty easy to find bacon without those chemicals, so that’s the route I went to add a little smokey flavor to this soup. Sautéed bacon adds flavor and provides the rendering in which we then sauté the vegetables.
White Bean Soup with Ham
- 4 slices of bacon diced
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 quarts 8 cups of low sodium ham stock (can substitute low sodium chicken broth or stock)
- 1/2 pound dried. soaked beans or 2 cans cannellini beans or other white beans
- 1 pound ham diced or shredded (use leftover ham, a purchased ham steak or the meat from a ham shank, ham hock, ham bone, or a combination)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed your ham broth may already be salted, so taste it before you add more salt
- Saute bacon over low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is just starting to brown.
- Add diced onions, celery, and carrots and saute over low heat until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes over low heat.
- Add herbs and mix to combine.
- Add beans and broth.
- Iincrease the heat so that the broth just begins to boil, turn down the heat to simmer, put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Taste several beans to make sure that they are all cooked before removing the soup from the heat.
- Add ham to rewarm it before serving.
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