Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

I find that, because I have a food blog, everyone assumes that I’m always in the mood to cook.  They think that it’s all chef-y food, all the time. I wish that was the truth… But, unfortunately, I tend to go through kitchen mood swings.

Lately, I’ve been craving some simplicity. When it has come time to decide what we’re having for dinner each night, I’ve been winging it quite a bit, opting for basics that I can make without a recipe. When I get into these into these dreary kitchen moods, I am always glad that I have learned to cook over the years. With minimal effort, I know that I can pull together something for dinner using whatever’s on hand.  Sometimes, I think that’s one of the most valuable kitchen skills to have.

One of my favorite non-recipe dinners to make is soup.  I almost always keep soup ingredients on hand, and I can mix and match what I have for endless variety. I start with aromatics – onions, garlic, carrots, celery.  Then, I usually add a bit of meat, beans, or sometimes both.  Add some good flavored broth (which I always keep in the freezer so I have it on hand), herbs and spices, and a few chunky veggies (if you like), and you’ve got a great soup. No sweat!

Want it to be even easier? Throw it all in your slow cooker. That’s what I decided to do a few weeks ago when I made this ham and bean soup.  I had a ham bone left over from a Christmas dinner that I made for my family. I pulled out some dried beans from the pantry and used the two as the base for a simple slow cooker ham and bean soup.  I didn’t really measure… I don’t think you need to.  The measurements in the recipe are approximations…  This is one of those dishes that you can feel your way through, and use what you have. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Sometimes getting in the kitchen can be pretty therapeutic, especially when you’re lacking inspiration.

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup
Serves approximately 8 – 10

  • 1 – 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 – 4 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 – 3 sprigs of thyme
  • Ham bone with meat
  • 6 – 8 cups liquid
    (I used about half water, half vegetable stock)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat (or in your slow cooker insert, if it is safe to use on the stove).  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute until tender, for about 10 minutes. Transfer the sauteed vegetables to your slow cooker, and stir in the soaked beans, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander. Toss in the thyme, stems and all.

Add the ham bone to the slow cooker, and add the liquid.  Be sure to add enough liquid to mostly cover the ham bone.  Cover, and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the beans are tender.

Remove the ham bone and the sprigs of thyme from the slow cooker, and use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup.  You can puree as much or as litlte as you like.  I like to puree the soup just enough to thicken the broth, leaving plenty of chunks.  Cut the meat off of the ham bone, chop into small pieces, and return to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

40 Responses to Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

  1. Food snobbery be damned – nothing beats a homey down to earth soup. Its comforting and perfect. Everyone always thinks Im up for cooking – and a lot, so I feel ya. But I use my slow cooker as often as much as possible this time of year. This soup is going on the list of things to make asap!

  2. This is a very hearty looking soup Jen and done in your slow cooker certainly ensures that it is a very flavourful one. A few slices of buttered sourdough would go great with this ;)

  3. I wonder about the consistency of dried beans when I cook them at home. I’ve done the soak overnight and the quick soak method, and both times they seem to come out with a grainy texture, even after they’ve cooked for 8 hours or so in the slow cooker. Is that how they should be?

    • Julie, don’t add salt until the beans are very soft. I believe
      that could be the issue. Some chefs/cooks say the same thing. And I rinse and soak before I do the quick soak. Lastly, make sure that your beans are fresh. Hope this helps!!! :^)

  4. I just made this and not only does it look amazing as if it should be photographed for a cookbook, but it is totally delishious! Thanks for the recipie!!!

  5. I make this all the time and it is delish! I also add a can of diced tomatoes and if I don’t have diced I will add tomatoe sauce. Seems to round it out a bit more. Growing up it was Pinto Beans and Ham Hocks then my Momnlaw made it this way and I have become hooked I love the veggies in it! :)

  6. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I ended up making it on the stove instead of a slow cooker. It’s a really nice blend of spices in this recipe. I ended up adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar as I thought it could use just a bit of acid to brighten up the flavor a little… I think that was a good addition.

  7. I just found this recipe and I am soooo looking forward to making this. We did honey baked ham this year and I was looking for a crockpot soup recipe for the bone and voila! there you were. I agree with the need for vinegar, but I think I will use some white wine vinegar to deglaze the pan after sauteing the vegetables… to get all the flavor from the bottom of the pan. I love the idea of some added tomatoes so I also think I will be adding a small amount of tomato paste to it as well. My mouth is watering…. mmmmmmmmm. Thanks for the post!

  8. I’m making this as I read it..LOL.. I had already planned on making this… when I needed more information about it.. and could not find the recipe I saw the first time.. so I googled the recipe.. and yours came up.. and here I am…LOL

  9. The soup is cooking in the crockpot and the house smells lovely! I was looking for something a bit more flavorful than my mom’s recipe and this recipe fit the bill! I may add a few mashed potato flakes to thicken the broth rather than blend the soup itself.

  10. I’m so excited to make this soup! I have my ham bone and got all the ingredients I needed (most I already had) earlier this evening. My neighbor suggested that I not soak the beans overnight and to just clean them and add them with the rest of the ingredients. Since they will be in the slow cooker for 8 hours I agree that it’s probably not necessary to pre-soak them. What are the thoughts from the rest of the peanut gallery on this?

    • Hi, Michael – I have tried skipping the soak when cooking beans in the slow cooker… Sometimes it works, but other times the beans have had a mealy/gritty texture, so I generally soak them just to be sure.

  11. Very good. Even my 8 yr. old loves it. She jumped up & down when I told I was making it again. I also added a little vinegar & waited till the end to add salt. I served it with corn bread. Very delicious. Best ham & bean soup I ever made.

  12. The text on the printed copy is so small I can’t read it. Why is the receipe way over to the right side of the page. I don’t think I’m the only one that has a problem with this. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Hi, Sharon – I believe there was a small technical issue with my site when you had this issue. It has been fixed and you should be able to print the recipe using the “Printer Friendly” button at the bottom of the post.

  13. Made this this weekend, probably the best bean soup I’ve made EVER. Thanks for the great recipe! (PS: I added the vinegar as well)

  14. I am looking forward to trying this!I am wondering if anyone has tried this recipe using “ham beans” (15 kinds of mixed beans) instead of the white beans. I happen to have a bag of those on hand. Also, I could not find any smoked paprika at the store, but I have regular paprika. I was thinking of using regular paprika and adding a little bit of liquid smoke (which I use as my “secret ingredient” in other soups). What do you think? Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I will be soaking my beans tonight.

    • Hi, Pam – I am sure the ham beans would work out just fine. I have used soup bean mixes for similar soups before (though, I do not recall if I used them for this specific soup) and they have worked beautifully. As long as you soak overnight, they should be fine! Also, the regular paprika and some liquid smoke is a perfect substitution for the smoked paprika. Enjoy!

  15. Still the best–trying again with stock made first then defatted, sadly repurposing the meat for the kids, looking for a more LF/LC version. Already the kitchen smells AMAZING :-)

  16. Wow this was delicous thank you for it’s simplicity n how to use a ham bone for the first time.

  17. Made this last night. So simple and delicious! Great use of the ham bone. We couldn’t get enough. Thanks!

  18. Can anyone help me out with a conversion amount of canned organic beans to equal the 2 1/2 cups of dry beans? Also, would I have to make any other adjustments to the recipe? Obviously I’ll reduce the amount of liquid I add to start with. Any other suggestions?



  19. I just made this soup, and unfortunately, wrecked my slow cooker. As suggested, to save time I put my slow cooker (ceramic vessel) on the front burner to sauté the vegetables. The ceramic vessel cracked, and left a terrible mess inside of the aluminum part of the cooker while it was cooking. It is now unusable. I would like to warn other people about this–do not under any circumstances use the ceramic vessel on your stove. Now, I am out $40 and my programmable slow cooker.

    • It says in the directions, “(or in your slow cooker insert, if it is safe to use on the stove)”. I would never think the ceramic insert was stove top safe.

  20. We made this delicious bean soup. We put a whole head of garlic, 3 tsp of Kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper. We also used spiral glazed ham leftovers from Thanksgiving. Everyone said it was the best Ham and Beans that they had ever had. Great recipe!

  21. I’ve cooked with dried beans for years, soaking them over night, for a full day+, and have done the quick method. All have worked well but as previously posted, some times the beans had too much tooth or were grainy. I believe that the dried beans in those cases were hiding in the back of my pantry too long (or were a long time in a warehouse). Basically, I think I had old beans. They are dried and do have a long shelf life and are certainly ok to eat, but not necessarily as tasty as perhaps “younger” beans. I’ve also heard that ingredience that are too acidic can make beans tough – has not been my experience though.

    • Hi, Jenny… Thanks for weighing in on this. You’re absolutely right. When dried beans get old and sit on the shelf for too long, the texture and taste can change.

  22. Will sure try this recipe, just wish that i could print it off. I find so many recipe on pinterest but am not able to print them