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Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup is a hearty and wholesome slow cooker soup that’s so comforting. It’s the perfect meal to make using leftover Holiday ham.
Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup isn’t known for it’s looks so if it doesn’t look totally appetizing to you, don’t worry. For what it lacks in looks it makes up for big time in terms of flavor!
My Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup is quite a bit different from the traditional ham and bean soup that I knew growing up. I add a variety of spices that I don’t think most recipes call for and I use Pinto Beans instead of Great Northern or White Kidney Beans. Pinto Beans are perfect in this soup because they’re so creamy!
Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup is a perfect way to use up leftover Holiday Ham! I love this soup after the holidays because it’s so hearty and full of nutrients after indulging quite a bit throughout the season. We like to eat it with a big green salad and some crusty bread. I have it pictured here in a bread bowl because exactly one hour before I took these photographs I realized Panera Bread sold their bread bowls in their bakery section and I bought two and I was so excited about it!
How to make Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup:
Dice up onion, celery, and carrots so you have about a cup of each!
In a slow cooker add 1 pound dried pinto beans (picked through and rinsed), 1 ham bone, 2-3 cups chopped ham (3 cups reflects the nutritional info/ww points, but my recipe calls for 2-3 cups depending on what I can get from the leftovers), 1 cup of each sautéed chopped onion, celery, and carrots, 1 tbsp chicken or vegetable flavor better than bouillon, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 bay leaf, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 8 cups of water, and 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme.
Cook on low for 8 hours. That’s all, folks. It’s so easy!
*You don’t have to sauté the carrots, celery, and onion, but it does make for a better finished flavor!
Do I have to use leftover ham/hambone?
No. You can just use a diced up ham steak from the grocery store. Works like a charm! However, you won’t have a ham bone if you do this so you’ll have to do one thing differently, okay? If you’re not using a ham bone, you need to use 2 tbsp of the chicken, ham, or vegetable flavor Better than Bouillon. That’s it.
Using a ham bone will help develop the flavor differently, BUT it’s still really, really good without it. I make this soup twice a year with a ham bone (after Christmas and Easter) and the rest of the year I just use chopped up ham from a ham steak and then use extra bouillon.
Can I used canned beans?
Yes you can, but I have not actually tried it with this particular recipe. Since the 8 cups of liquid in this recipe is mostly soaked up by the dry beans since they need it for cooking. You absolutely will not need 8 cups of liquid. The flavor of the beans soaking and cooking is so amazing and the texture of the beans is so good, I do recommend the dry beans, but you can try canned too! I would stick to about 1-3/4 to 2 cups of water and about 6 hours in the slow cooker on low. Everything else should be the same as in the recipe.
If you’ve never had ham and bean soup, then you should absolutely start with this recipe! It’s so full of flavor. The only requirement is that you must like beans to like this soup… because it’s very bean forward. Haha
Be sure to discard the thyme sprigs and ham bone before serving and enjoy!
Ham and Bean Soup is not the prettiest soup. There’s no way around it, but it’s not supposed to be. And if you can, put it in a bread bowl. Oh my gracious it’s good!
This soup also freezes super well! Just be sure whatever you are freezing is completely cool. I like to freeze in 2 cup portions in a freezer friendly ziplock bag. Try to press as much air out of the bag as possible before cooking.
Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup
- 3 cups diced ham
- 1 lb pinto beans, dried rinsed and picked through
- 1 ham bone not necessary if you don't have one- see notes
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne powder use more or less depeing on your spice preference. I find 1/4 tsp adds just enough of a kick to notice.
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 8 cups water
- 1-2 .5 tbsp better than bouillon (use 1.5 tbsp if using a ham bone use 2.5 tbsp if not using a ham bone) **see notes
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat spray lightly with cooking spray and saute diced onions, celery, and carrots just until soft. Set aside. *you don't have to do this step, but it really does make the end result taste better.
- In a slow cooker add dried beans, chopped ham, sautéed veggies, spices, bay leaf, thyme, water, and ham bone (if using). Important: Add 1 tbsp "better than bouillion" if you ARE using a ham bone. If you are NOT using a ham bone then add 2.5 tbsp "better than bouillon".
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Salt and pepper, to taste. Discard thyme sprigs and the ham bone. Enjoy!