Our weeknight version of the beloved Bean and Ham Soup is just as flavorful and mouthwatering as any version slowly simmered for hours on the stove top. Loaded with large chunks of vegetables, shreds of salty ham and creamy white beans, this soup is a true delight.

The Soup-er Simple Series

This soup recipe is part of our SOUP-er Simple Series! This means it has a short ingredient list, quick cook time, and loads of flavor. The goal is to give you more than enough soup recipes to get you through cold weeknights when all you want is something savory and steaming on the table in 30 minutes or so. 

In order to be apart of the SOUP-er Simple Series, each recipe needs to hit these three criteria: 

  • 10 ingredients or less
  • Ready in under 45 minutes 
  • Taste like it took hours 
ham and white bean soup with chunks of carrots and celery in a shallow white bowl

Why This Recipe Works

Most Ham and Bean soup recipes utilize a ham hock, ham shanks, or ham bone for infusing the soup with savory, smoky flavor. And when we’re making a long-simmered soup on Sunday, we will too. But for this recipe we were tasked in creating a ham and bean soup that tasted like it simmered for hours but in actuality it was simmered for just 20 minutes or so. 

To achieve layers of deep flavor we relied on one of our favorite shortcuts—Better than Bouillon. And frankly, we used to snub Better than Bouillon, thinking it was a shortcut for people who didn’t like to cook. We couldn’t have been more wrong. 

If you’re thinking dry powder or bouillon cubes, that’s not what we’re using here. Instead of underwhelming and overly-salty powders, Better than Bouillon is made from simmered meat, vegetables and spices. 

To enhance the bouillon even further, we cook it briefly in unsalted butter to lightly brown it, which infuses the broth with even more flavor. 

And finally, we like large chunks of veg, so we keep the celery and carrot pretty big. 

ham steak, celery, carrots, onion, butter, bouillon paste, beans, spices, garlic and salt set out on a counter

Ingredient Notes

Better than Bouillon

Look for Better than Bouillon paste in the broth and soup section of your grocery store. We prefer the Roasted Chicken Base for this recipe. Do not substitute with bouillon powder or cubes. 

Ham 

Seek out a large packaged ham steak or head over to your deli counter and ask them to slice you a ham steak (at least ½ inch thick). Simply tell them you need it for a ham soup recipe and they should know how thick to slice it. 

For the best texture, we prefer to tear the ham steak into chunks instead of dicing it. The craggy edges hold onto the broth, ensuring each bite is loaded with flavor. 

This soup is also a great way to use leftover ham from a holiday meal or roasted ham dinner!

White Beans

To keep this weeknight-friendly, use canned beans instead of soaking and cooking dried beans. We like the small size and creaminess of Great Northern beans, but you can use any white beans you have on hand or prefer such as navy beans, cannellini beans, and chickpeas. Don’t drain them! Add the beans and their liquid to the soup for an extra-silky broth and slightly thicker soup.

Test kitchen tips

  • To make the prep of this soup even faster, you can prep the veggies ahead of time. Cut the carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage up to 3 days in advance. Store the carrots, celery and onions together in a large glass container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. Store the cabbage separately, in an airtight container in the refrigerator as well.
  • This soup makes A LOT—16 cups! Be sure you use the large pot or Dutch oven you have on hand.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • This soup is a meal in and of itself. However, we like to top each bowl of soup with a chunk of crusty bread for soaking up the golden broth.
ham and white bean soup with chunks of carrots and celery in a shallow white bowl

FAQs

Can I use chicken broth instead of Better than Bouillon? 

We haven’t tested this, but you should be able to, no problem. We anticipate it won’t be as flavorful as you aren’t browning the bouillon, but it will still be delicious. You’ll need 8 cups chicken broth. 

I don’t have dried Italian seasoning, what should I do?

Make a quick mix of the dried herbs you have on hand! The majority of the mix should be basil, parsley and oregano. Thyme and rosemary should also be added, but in smaller amounts. In a pinch, we roughly follow this recipe as a guide.

Can I use potatoes instead of carrots?

Sure, we haven’t tested this but potatoes should work fine. Cut them into 1/2-inch cubes and add them with the celery.

What fresh herb would you recommend finishing this soup with?

Fresh parsley would be our first choice, but chives or thyme would also be delicious. For even more flavor, you can drop a couple bay leaves into the soup while it simmers.

Is bean and ham soup healthy?

Yes! Around here we do things healthy-ish, which means we focus on cooking wholesome meals that are absolutely delicious. Thanks to all of the veggies, this soup is full of fiber. Additionally, it has a good amount of protein from the ham and the beans.

Watch How to Make It

Bean and Ham Soup

Print Recipe
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Yield 16 cups (4-6 servings)
Category Soup
Cuisine American

Description

A simple weeknight version of a classic slow-simmered soup. Loaded with large chunks of veggies, shreds of ham, and a silky savory broth, it's the perfect meal for cold weeknights.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base
  • 6 stalks celery, cut into 1 ½-inch chinks (3 ½ cups)
  • 3 large carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (2 cups)
  • Morton kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 ¼ pounds ham steak, torn into 1-inch pieces (4 heaping cups)
  • ½ pound green cabbage, cut into chunks (6-7 cups)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans (such as Great Northern)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Instructions

  • Heat butter in a very large pot or Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium. Add Better than Bouillon, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and bouillon starts to stick to pan, about 2 minutes.
  • Add celery, carrots, and onion to drippings; season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables start to soften and there’s a good amount of liquid in bottom of pot (scant 1 cup), about 10 minutes.
    carrots, celery and onion in a pot
  • Stir in Italian seasoning and garlic; cook 2 minutes.
    carrots, celery and onion with spices and garlic on top, in a pot
  • Add 8 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium then stir in ham and cabbage; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.
    broth, vegetables and ham in a large pot
  • Stir in beans and their juices; simmer just until warmed through.
    broth, vegetables and white beans in a large pot.
  • Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this soup will last up to one week. 
This soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 242kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 17.5gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 1796mgFiber: 6gSugar: 3g
Keywords Bean and ham soup, ham and bean soup, white bean and ham soup
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
ham and white bean soup with chunks of carrots and celery in a shallow white bowl

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Images by: Megan McKeehan

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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