Creamy Ham and Bean Soup

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup ~

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup is a luxe way to use up a leftover ham ~ I make a big pot of this wonderful chowder, it only gets more wonderful as it sits.

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup is a luxe way to use up a leftover holiday ham, this easy chowder makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner on a chilly day! ~

leftover ham transformed into a comforting soup!

I sometimes look forward to the leftovers even more than the original dish during the holidays. I mean, what could be better than having a hunk of ham, with the flavorful bone attached, sitting in the fridge just waiting to be turned into something warm and comforting like this creamy ham soup?

Ham soup is usually a once a year treat for me. I make it right after Christmas with the remains of our holiday ham. Truth be told I stash away some of the meat before the bone gets picked clean just for this type of soup. But it’s way too good to only enjoy once a year!

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup is a luxurious and comforting cold weather meal ~

what you’ll need

  • mixed dried beans
  • cooked ham
  • ham bone or ham hock
  • cream
  • bay leaves
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper

Don’t have a leftover ham? No problem, use a ham shank or a ham hock from the butcher. If you use a hock, which doesn’t have much meat attached, you’ll need some extra ham for this soup. You can even use a thick slice from the deli counter.

the soup base is a delicate ham broth

This soup is based on a delicate ham broth that isn’t too strong or overpowering. I make it a little differently than usual ~ I cook the ham broth in one pot, and the dried beans in another. I’ll strain the ham broth after it’s simmered for about an hour and a half, and then add the cooked and drained beans. A little bit of heavy cream, some seasonings, and a nice shower of fresh thyme completes it.

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup made with a variety of dried beans ~

did you know dried beans are a super food?

They’re a great meat substitute and we should all be eating more of them.

I love beans, and there are always a ton of different varieties in my cupboard. I like to make this soup with lots of different shapes and colors, which makes it taste great, and look pretty, too. I’m comfortable cooking them together, even though some will become tender before others ~ that just gives a little variety of texture ~ some will be firm, and others will be completely soft. I salt the water (it’s a myth that it makes the beans tough) and I always use bay leaves, I love the flavor they impart to the beans.

Cooking dried beans for Creamy Ham and Bean Soup ~

There are several ways to cook dried beans ~ you can dump them in the slow cooker, cover with cold water, and let them simmer away for several hours. You can soak them overnight, then cook them on the stove the next day. Or, like I do, you can cover them with water, bring to a boil, and set them aside for an hour. Then drain, cover with fresh water, and cook until tender. Any way you do it, dried beans take a bit of time, but they’re so worth it!

I cook black beans separately because they tend to color the other beans an unappetizing grey. And if you want to use lentils, add them later in the process because they cook much quicker than other beans.

CREAMY HAM AND BEAN SOUP is warming and comforting on a cold day! ~

This is a very simple soup, with a clean and light taste. In fact I debated whether to include the world ‘creamy’ in the title at all because it’s not heavy or thick like traditional cream or bean soups, it has more of a brothy texture. The ham gives it a unique flavor, and the whole thing is just lovely.

Delicious, healthy and hearty Ham and Bean Soup ~

love ham?

3.86 from 21 votes

Creamy Ham and Bean Soup

The flavor of this soup improves over time, so feel free to make it ahead.You could, if absolutely necessary, use canned beans for this soup, but you would lose some great flavor and texture.You could add some grated Parmesan cheese to the soup as you serve it, if you like.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Yield 8 servings
Author Sue Moran



  • 2 cups mixed dried beans I used a mix of red, pink, white, lima, black, chick pea, black eyed pea, and heirloom varieties
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves

ham broth

  • 1 leftover hambone with most of the meat removed, shredded or chopped, and set aside
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 whole peppercorns


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups cooked ham shredded or chopped
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • Rinse the beans and put them in a large pot. Cover with several inches of cold water, add the salt and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for an hour.
  • Drain the beans, put back in the pot, (along with the bay leaves) and cover with several inches of cold water. Bring the beans to a boil and cook gently until they are just tender. This can take anywhere from 1 to 2+ hours, depending on your beans. Add more water as necessary. Try to retain some texture in the beans, don’t let them get mushy. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, put the ham in a large stock pot and add 10 cups of cold water. Throw in the bay leaves and peppercorns, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and cook for 90 minutes. Check to see that the broth is simmering, not boiling furiously.
  • Strain the broth and discard the solids. Return the broth to a clean pot.
  • Add the cooked and drained beans to the ham broth, along with the cream, the reserved ham, and 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves. Bring up to a simmer, and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with extra thyme leaves.

Cook’s notes

  • The flavor of this soup improves over time, so feel free to make it ahead.
  • You could, if absolutely necessary, use canned beans for this soup, but you would lose some great flavor and texture.
  • You could add some grated Parmesan cheese to the soup as you serve it, if you like.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
e book

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  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Somehow I just don’t think milk and beans go together. Also cooking beans and then draining them pours all the goodness down the drain. I cook beans with the ham in them and do not drain. Makes a delicious soup without all the extra work.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

      That’s definitely another way to go Louise, for sure. This combination was so unusual I couldn’t resist, and the creamy broth is really delicious with the beans, it’s worth a try, you might change your mind!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Just came across this, and am making it tonight. Though I do have a question-why not just cook the him bone directly with the beans? Wouldn’t that impart more flavor to them?

    • Reply
      September 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      You theoretically could do that Sabrina, but I imagine with the bone, the seasonings, and the beans together you would not be able to get the smooth texture that you see in the soup ~ you wouldn’t be able to strain the broth very well, in other words. But you can certainly do it that way, for sure.

  • Reply
    December 31, 2016 at 6:37 am

    5 stars
    Such a great soup and perfect for left-over ham. Love all those beautiful beans!

    • Reply
      December 31, 2016 at 11:48 am

      I adore beans, and now that so many heirloom varieties are available it’s fun to collect them:)

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Now this looks good. Looks like the perfect recipe for a cold winter night! Gotta try this soon!

  • Reply
    Lea Ann
    December 30, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    5 stars
    I’m loving this one. Pinning.

    • Reply
      December 31, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Happy New Year Lee Ann!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    December 30, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I’m soaking my beans right now! I love using the leftover ham and ham bone for a soup like this. What a beautiful crowder you created! Bring the snow and a bowl of this deliciousness – I’m all set! Happy New Year Sue & Grant!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Just printed this one off – looks wonderful! As usual, your recipes are unique and always delicious. Can’t wait to try this one!!!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness, Sue, I am completely in love with this soup! It’s colours, textures, flavours – all fantastic. And your stunning photos make me want to have a big pot of this in my house every single day. Wow – it’s been a long time since i’ve been blown away by a soup, lol. Love it!

    Happy New Year to you and yours. Looking forward to chatting and collaborating in the new year!

    • Reply
      December 31, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      It’s definitely a soup to celebrate the New Year with ~ here’s to a great one!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 5:32 am

    5 stars
    I just love the look and the flavour of this comforting and warming soup. Awesome that you used a combination of different legumes here.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 3:18 am

    5 stars
    It’s super cold this morning in Carolina. This would be a perfect way to warm up the day. It looks and sounds super delish!

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