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person dipping a piece of bread into ham and bean soup

Leftover Ham and Bean Soup Recipe

  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 15 1/2 cups 1x


Our leftover ham and bean soup recipe is easy and economical.  This homemade soup uses an old fashioned assortment of dried beans.  Make this creamy classic ahead in the crock pot or on the stovetop; either way it will hit the spot on a cold day.



  • 1 cup dried pink beans (170g)
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans (170g)
  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas (170g)
  • 1 cup dried green lentils (170g)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped (260g)
  • 1 3/4 cups carrots, peeled and chopped (250g)
  • 2 1/4 cups celery, chopped (295g)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock (1.41 liters)
  • 4 cups filtered water (945 ml)
  • 3 cups ham, finely diced (410g)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 44 sprigs fresh thyme (8g)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (240 ml)


Preparing the Dried Beans

  1. Rinse the three kinds of dried beans, discarding any discolored beans.  Put the beans in a large pot, and cover them with water.  Let the pot boil for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the pot sit covered overnight.
  2. After 12 hours, rinse and drain the beans.  Dump them back into the same pot and cover with water.  Let the pot boil for 2 minutes.  Turn the heat off and keep the pot covered.  Let sit for at least one hour.  Check the beans to see if they are soft enough to taste.  If they aren’t, repeat this step.  I needed to repeat this step with the beans I used.
  3. When the beans are done, drain them and rinse in a colander.

Crock Pot Method

  1. Pour the chicken stock, filtered water, onions, carrots, celery, diced ham, and the bay leaves into a large crock pot.  Add the soaked beans, lentils, salt, pepper, and the dried thyme.  Tie together 38 sprigs, or a handful, of fresh thyme with kitchen twine and add it to the soup.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  3. Half an hour before serving, taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Remove the bouquet of fresh thyme and the bay leaves.  Turn the crock pot to the low heat setting and pour in the cream.  Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.
  4. Serve warm.  Garnish each bowl with fresh thyme leaves and a few cracks of black pepper.

Stovetop Method

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat heat, then saute the onion, celery and carrot for roughly 8 minutes.
  2. Add the dried spices and cook for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
  3. Pour in 1/3 cup of chicken stock to deglaze the bottom.  Use a wooden turner to scrape off the browned bits from sauteing the vegetables.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock, filtered water, diced ham, soaked beans, green lentils and bay leaves, then stir until well combined.
  5. Use kitchen twine to secure a handful of fresh thyme, about 40 sprigs.  Place the bouquet in the soup.
  6. Cover the Dutch oven, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and let the soup simmer for 2 hours.
  7. Taste the soup, adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Remove the bay leaves and thyme bouquet.  If you want, remove the extra fat from the top of the soup with a large spoon.
  8. Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the heavy cream.
  9. Serve warm and garnish each bowl with fresh thyme leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.


  • If desired, puree some of the soup and stir it back in to help thicken the broth.
  • Use no salt canned beans that are well rinsed if you want to skip the dried beans.
  • Chop up the mirepoix similar in size if you want the best texture.
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: best ham and bean soup, creamy ham and bean soup

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