Slow Cooker White Bean & Ham Soup is a hearty, wholesome, comforting crock pot recipe that’s perfect for using up leftover holiday ham!
So are y’all ready for the big day? I hit the grocery store early this morning in hopes that I’d beat the week o’ Thanksgiving crowds. I didn’t…but at least I’m done. Except for one ingredient I couldn’t find between two stores, meaning I’ve got to brave those crazy aisles again tomorrow…ugh.?
The good news is I’ve got a plan. I know what I’ve got to cook when, for which side of the family celebration, and I’ve got (almost) everything I need to get started. I’ve even got dinner planned for the day after Thanksgiving in the form of this Slow Cooker White Bean & Ham Soup!
Who else enjoys both turkey and ham on Thanksgiving? I have to admit that it’s not how my family did things growing up — we always had turkey on Thanksgiving and ham on Christmas. But when I began dating my now-husband and accompanying him to his family’s numerous Thanksgiving Day festivities for different sides of the family, it seems we had turkey and ham at every meal.
And I have to say, I liked it! Especially now, with kids of my own, having both turkey and ham means that there’s something for everyone (AKA, greater odds that certain picky kids will eat more than just a dinner roll). And if you attend, sayyyy, half a dozen Thanksgiving celebrations over the course of a few days, I’ve found that alternating eating turkey at one meal and then ham at the next breaks things up a bit. 😉
The other bonus of cooking a big ol’ ham is that there’s almost always a bunch of leftover ham…and if you’re extra lucky, there might even be a ham bone in the mix. And what can you make with a ham bone and/or leftover ham??? Why, soup, of course!
Slow Cooker White Bean & Ham Soup is pure winter comfort food, though it’s actually on the healthier side of things. Great Northern beans (or navy beans) are tossed into the crock pot along with a ham bone (or ham hock or ham shank), carrots, celery, chicken broth, and seasonings. Everything is slow cooked until the beans and veggies are tender and the smoky ham bone has had plenty of time to permeate the soup with all of its savory deliciousness.
At this point, I like to use an immersion blender to puree just a bit of the soup for a thick, creamy consistency. Then I stir in a cup or two of diced ham…or, if I initially used a meaty hunk of ham bone in my soup, I pull and shred the plentiful ham from that.
And that’s it! You’ve got a complete crock pot meal that’s hearty, filling, and will warm you up, straight down to your toes. I like to serve this Slow Cooker White Bean & Ham Soup with a crusty loaf of French bread slathered with herb butter, which happens to be another fabulous way to use up leftover herbs from your holiday cooking. Yummmm…
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving later this week! I’m truly thankful for each and every one of you who visits and follows and otherwise comes upon this little food blog each day. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to be able to share my recipes with y’all as my day job, and I appreciate you all, on Thanksgiving and every day.♥
Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
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- If you don’t have a leftover holiday ham bone, you can buy ham hocks or a ham shank at the grocery store. Once the soup is done cooking, remove the bone/hock/shank, discard any fat/cartilage, and pull all of the bits of ham from it to add back to the soup. Big chunks of ham may be shredded.
- The diced ham in this soup is optional depending on how much ham you get from your ham bone/hock/shank. Basically, you are free to add as much extra diced ham as you like once the soup is done cooking. Just be sure you stir it in after you puree some of the soup, unless you like pureed ham. 😉
- If you don’t already have one, I highly, highly recommend investing in an immersion blender. They’re pretty affordable and they are so gosh darn handy. I use mine all the time…for instance, in this soup and this soup and this soup and a bunch of other recipes in my cookbook. Wayyyy easier and less messy than transferring soup to a blender or food processor to puree.
- Speaking of an immersion blender, if you wish, you may puree this Slow Cooker White Bean & Ham Soup until completely smooth (again, before adding the diced or shredded ham).
- I never soak my beans (partially because I’m lazy and partially because I don’t feel like it makes a difference), but if you’re a loyal bean soaker, feel free to soak and drain your dried beans before proceeding with the recipe.
- I recommend using Great Northern or navy beans for this recipe. Cannellini beans would taste good in this soup as well, but cannellini beans (also known as white kidney beans) contain a high level of a naturally occurring toxin called phytohaemagglutinin (say that ten times real fast…or real slow) that can cause severe food poisoning. White kidney beans contain far less of this toxin than red kidney beans, but it’s still necessary to bring any dried kidney beans to a rolling boil for 10 minutes in order to remove this toxin and make them safe to eat. Since some slow cookers run cooler than others, the only way to guarantee safe cannellini/kidney beans is to boil them on the stove before draining and transferring the beans to the slow cooker. So for a recipe like this, I think it’s just easier to use Great Northern or navy beans from the get-go. 🙂
- Feel free to adjust the ingredients in this soup to your liking. If you don’t like celery, leave it out. If you enjoy onion, add some in. If you have fresh parsley on hand, use it instead of dried (and use about 3 times as much).
- The ham bone usually adds plenty of saltiness to this soup, which is why it’s important to start with low-sodium chicken broth (you could also use water). You can always add salt and pepper at the end if you need to adjust the seasonings, but it’s unlikely that the soup will need more salt.
- I always like to serve lentil soup with a little splash of apple cider vinegar stirred into individual bowls, and it turns out that the same thing is yummy in this soup (props to my 10-year-old for suggesting it). A tiny bit of vinegar stirred into bean soup really makes the flavors pop (but be careful not to add too much as a little goes a long way)!
♥More savory ham recipes…
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