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The Best Ham & Bean Soup You’ll Ever Eat

Updated on September 18, 2012
Cook time: 3 hours 30 min
Ready in: 3 hours 30 min
Yields: Serves 6-8

This bean soup is simple in construction but rich in flavor. The secret? The long cooking time. I guarantee that this is like no ham and bean soup you’ve ever had. The combination of dried herbs fuse together a complex layer of flavors. The large butter lima beans and potato provide a hearty and thick texture that is complimented by the soft, tender, long cooked ham. This simple recipe has been handed down in my family for generations, but it has been a closely guarded family secret…until now, that is.

This watery pot will thicken over 3 hours of cooking from the starch of the beans and minced potato.
This watery pot will thicken over 3 hours of cooking from the starch of the beans and minced potato. | Source


  • 1 lb (0.45kg) dried large lima beans
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 large potato, peeled and minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs (0.9kg) boneless ham, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 large potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Soak the beans in a 6 quart pot for 8-12 hours. The water should be salted with the kosher salt, and the water level should be approximately 3 inches (7cm) above the top of the beans.
  2. Drain the salt water and refill the pot to 3/4 full.
  3. Over medium-high heat, add the peeled, diced potato, the handful of minced baby carrots, parsley, oregano, red pepper, olive oil, and ham. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining potato and carrots. Return to a boil.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 additional hour.
  7. To serve, scoop into bowls and top with fresh parley and fresh ground black pepper.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 357 grams
Calories 409
Calories from Fat99
% Daily Value *
Fat 11 g17%
Saturated fat 3 g15%
Carbohydrates 65 g22%
Sugar 5 g
Fiber 23 g92%
Protein 28 g56%
Cholesterol 52 mg17%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

How to Not Screw It Up

  1. It’s best if you let the beans soak in the salt water overnight. This process re-hydrates the dried beans, and you don’t want to short change the re-hydration process. Much of the beans cook away and become the broth, so if the beans are not properly re-hydrated, you’ll end up with watery broth and not the rich, thick, flavorful broth we’re after.
  2. I recommend that you finely mince the peeled potato and first handful of carrots. The smaller the pieces, the more likely they are to melt away during the 2 hour simmer–which is what we want. The more they cook into the broth, the more flavorful, thicker, and richer it becomes.
  3. Don’t get lazy and forget to stir. This soup needs to be stirred every 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, you will burn beans and ham the bottom of the pot. Not only does that not taste good, but it’s hell to clean.

Tried this recipe? Rate it.

4.7 stars from 3 ratings of Long cooked ham & bean soup


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    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hmmm. Definitely curious how this turns out with fava beans. Whenever I travel to Peru, I know what to bring to offer the locals then!

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      Your photo and opening description had me hooked before I saw the recipe! I've marked this to try. I'll have to sub fava beans for the lima beans. Would you believe Lima is the capitol of Peru but no lima beans? I've never been able to figure that one out. I'm sure it will still be delicious...will let you know. Thanks so much!

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      It's perfect for cold weather, Glimmer Twin Fan--especially to stand over the hot soup while its cooking! My favorite part.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      This looks really good for the upcoming cooler weather. Pinned.

    • MickiS profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, jenubouka. I do think the photo is a little dark, though. I started the bean soup while it was still light outside, but it was after dark before I served. Next time I make it, I'll get one with more natural lighting.

      Carol and Jen, it's a great technique to thicken the sauce that also makes a creamy sauce but one that is gluten free and dairy free.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I like the extra help. I love bean soups and make them all the time. I will remember about the chopping of veggies to blend into the soup. Great and voted up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting technique Micki, mincing the potatoes and carrot. Not many know to do this to produce a creamy and intense flavor. What an amazing picture as well, what an eye!!


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