Old-Fashioned Leftover Ham Bone Soup With Beans

Stop throwing away your ham bone or giving it to the dog; turn it (and any leftover ham) into this delicious leftover hambone soup with beans and root vegetables instead. If you love ham and bean soups and stews, you’re going to love this.

Two bowls of thick leftover hambone soup full of beans, ham, potatoes, and root vegetables.
Photo Credit: The Peasant’s Daughter.

A Leftover Ham Bone Makes A Delicious Bone Broth

And you can cook the ham bone simultaneously as you cook your beans since they take the same amount of time.

Ham and bean soup is so versatile and delicious — a perfect use of those 15-bean and 13-bean soup mixes you see in bags at the grocery store. In fact, this soup uses few and common fresh ingredients and common pantry staples too.

The night you enjoy your roasted ham, set the beans to soak in water overnight and then start the soup simmering the next day — or use canned beans after the ham bone and vegetables are done cooking.

If you love hearty soups and stews like this, try my Istrian Jota soup which also uses beans and leftover ham, or my German split pea and ham soup.

Croatian grah is a thick stew of smoked pork and beans, and my Bosnian bean soup is similar but uses smoked beef sausage instead of pork.

Ingredient Notes, Variations, & Substitutions

The quantities of each ingredient are listed in the printable recipe card below. Feel free to use whatever dried beans you love or have on hand, and check out the FAQ below for more ideas.

All of the ingredients needed to make this ham and bean soup with a leftover ham bone.

Instructions (Step-by-Step)

Reference these photos if you need help visualizing what something should look like:

All of the vegetables sliced, diced, and chopped on a wooden cutting board.
A leftover smoked ham bone added to soup pot.
Diced potatoes and tomatoes added to broth.
Diced ham stirred into finished soup broth.

Step 1: If you’re using dried beans or a dried bean mix, you need to soak the beans for 8-10 hours first. To do this just cover the dry beans with a few inches of cold water and leave them on the kitchen counter for the time needed. Drain and rise the beans when done soaking.

Step 2: Get your ingredients ready. Chop and dice the potatoes into bite-sized chunks, chop the rest of the veggies. Mince the garlic.

Step 3: In a heavy soup or stock pot, melt oil or fat and saute carrots, celery, and onion until soft, 8-10 minutes. Then add garlic and bay leaf and stir for 60 seconds. Add a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Step 4: Add the ham bone and the drained beans. Cover with water so that the bone is submerged by 2 inches, and bring to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours.

Step 5: After two hours, uncover pot, add the tomatoes and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Step 6: Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Continue simmering until beans are tender and ready.

Step 7: Add more water to adjust for liquid evaporation and to adjust for thickness to your liking. Remove bone, stir in leftover ham meat scraps, and serve hot with rustic crusty bread on the side. I always serve this with sourdough breads like rye and I love to garnish it with fresh parsley right at the end.

A bowl of thick leftover hambone soup full of beans, ham, potatoes, and root vegetables.
Two bowls of thick leftover hambone soup full of beans, ham, potatoes, and root vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions & Notes

How to Store Ham & Bean Soup

Refrigerating:
Cool Down Quickly: Before refrigerating, allow the soup to cool down to room temperature quickly to prevent bacterial growth. You can do this by placing the pot in a sink filled with icy or very cold water. Once cooled, transfer the soup into an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator immediately. The soup should be consumed within 3 to 4 days for the best quality and safety.

Freezing:
Cool It Down: As with refrigerating, let the soup cool to room temperature quickly.
For convenience, freeze the soup in individual portions or in amounts you’re likely to use at one time. This makes it easier to thaw only what you need. Transfer the soup into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Leave about an inch of space at the top of containers as the soup will expand when frozen.

Write the date and contents on the container. This will help you keep track of how long the soup has been frozen. The soup can be frozen for up to 6 months for the best quality.

To reheat both refrigerated and frozen ham & bean Soup:

Refrigerated Soup:
Stovetop
: Warm the soup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
Microwave: Place in a microwave-safe dish, cover loosely, and heat on high, stirring every minute, until hot.

Frozen Soup:
Refrigerator: Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Microwave: Use the defrost setting for quicker thawing.
Reheating: Follow the same steps as for refrigerated soup once it’s thawed.

General Tips:
If the soup has thickened in storage, add water or stock to adjust consistency.

How long can you keep a ham bone before making soup?

You can keep a ham bone in the refrigerator for up to 4 days if you plan to use it for making soup. If you won’t be using the ham bone within that timeframe, it’s best to freeze it. A ham bone can be frozen for up to 4 to 6 months without significant loss of flavor or quality. When you’re ready to use it, you can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use it directly from the freezer into your soup pot.

What kind of soups can be made from a ham bone?

Here are some delicious soup ideas that you can make using a ham bone. Most of these soups a family-friendly and budget-friendly recipes:

Ham and Bean Soup: Use navy beans, great northern beans, or bagged 15-bean/13-bean soup mixes (or your own mix of beans) along with vegetables and herbs, cooked with a ham bone for a comforting and filling meal. This recipe is an example of that! See my recipe ingredient notes for variations and substitutions to tweak this soup to your taste.

Split Pea Soup: A classic choice, this hearty soup combines split peas with carrots, onions, celery, and sometimes potatoes, all simmered with a ham bone for a rich, smoky flavor. See my recipe for German split pea soup with ham and use a ham bone to make it.

Lentil Soup: Lentils pair well with the smoky flavor of ham. Add vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions, and simmer everything with a ham bone for a nutritious and tasty soup.

Potato Soup: Create a creamy potato soup with a base enriched by simmering a ham bone in the broth. You can add leeks or onions for additional flavor and finish with cream for richness. See my recipe for German potato soup for an example.

Vegetable Soup: A ham bone can add depth to a simple vegetable soup. Use seasonal vegetables and simmer them with the ham bone for a flavorful broth. A ham bone would be a lovely stock to make for my rustic green bean soup.

Corn Chowder: For a twist on traditional corn chowder, add a ham bone during the simmering process to infuse the soup with a smoky flavor, complementing the sweetness of the corn.

Cabbage & Sauerkraut Soups: Ham and cabbage are a classic combination. Simmer chopped cabbage with other vegetables and a ham bone for a simple, rustic, and tasty soup. See my recipe for Istrian jota, a traditional soup of pork, beans, and sauerkraut, and also red cabbage soup.

Collard Greens Soup: For a Southern-inspired dish, simmer collard greens, black-eyed peas, and diced tomatoes with a ham bone for a hearty and flavorful soup.

Italian White Bean and Ham Soup: Inspired by Italian cuisine, this soup combines cannellini beans, garlic, rosemary, and a ham bone for a Mediterranean twist on ham and bean soup.

Croatian Grah: Quintessential peasant cuisine from my own homeland, grah is always made with beans and smoked pork in Croatia. Bosnian grah uses beef.

Pea and Ham Hock Soup: Similar to split pea soup, but using whole peas and flavored with a ham bone or ham hock for a traditional, smoky taste.

These soups can be adapted based on your personal taste and the ingredients you have on hand. The ham bone adds a rich, meaty essence to the broth, making these soups incredibly satisfying.

What kinds of beans and grains can I add to this ham and bean soup?

Popular bean choices include navy beans, great northern beans, black beans, pinto beans, and cannellini beans. For grains, adding barley, rice, or quinoa can make the soup more filling and provide a pleasant contrast in texture. Mixing different types of beans and grains can create a more complex flavor profile and make the soup more interesting and satisfying.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

A bowl of thick leftover hambone soup full of beans, ham, potatoes, and root vegetables.

Old-Fashioned Leftover Ham Bone Soup With Beans

 If you love ham and bean soups and stews, you're going to love this one made with a leftover ham bone.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Course: Soups
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 487kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover ham bone
  • 1 cup leftover ham scraps
  • 2 cups dried beans soaked for 8-10 hours.
  • 1 tablespoon oil or fat I prefer lard or tallow.
  • 2 large onions chopped small.
  • 4 medium carrots diced small.
  • 2 ribs celery chopped.
  • 5 cloves garlic minced.
  • 4 large potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  • 1 16 oz canned tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • If you're using dried beans or a dried bean mix, you need to soak the beans for 8-10 hours first. To do this just cover the dry beans with a few inches of cold water and leave them on the kitchen counter for the time needed. Drain and rise the beans when done soaking.
  • Get your ingredients ready. Chop and dice the potatoes into bite-sized chunks, chop the rest of the veggies. Mince the garlic.
  • In a heavy soup or stock pot, melt oil or fat and saute carrots, celery, and onion until soft, 8-10 minutes. Then add garlic and bay leaf and stir for 60 seconds. Add a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Add the ham bone and the drained beans. Cover with water so that the bone is submerged by 2 inches, and bring to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 2 to 2.5 hours.
  • After two hours, uncover pot, add the tomatoes and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Continue simmering until beans are tender and ready.
  • Add more water to adjust for liquid evaporation and to adjust for thickness to your liking. Remove bone, stir in leftover ham meat scraps, and serve hot with rustic crusty bread on the side. I always serve this with sourdough breads like rye and I love to garnish it with fresh parsley right at the end.

Nutrition

Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 2194mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 6861IU | Vitamin C: 59mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 7mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating