Knowing that lots of people now own Instant Pots—and didn’t when I originally posted this recipe—I’ve updated this Easy Ham & Bean Soup recipe to include IP directions (as well as new photos). Don’t worry, the soup itself is just as good as it always has been.
Beans are so good year ’round but to me, they are especially good in the winter months—and this soup is a good example of why. It’s filling, comforting, thick, warming and nutritious. It’s also an inexpensive recipe. Dried beans are a bargain any time, and a leftover ham bone is often hanging around in the freezer or fridge after holiday feasts.
Feel free to use whatever type of beans you like best (I happen to like the small navy beans). You may also want to add some extra veggies to the soup. Chopped carrots are a natural fit, but you could also stir in chopped kale or spinach leaves toward the end of cooking. When I remade the recipe so I could re-shoot the photos for this post, I happened to have a ham bone that had a lot of meat still on it, so I didn’t add the full 2 cups of cubed ham. (This is why most of the ham in the pictures looks like it is shredded— it just fell off the bone and isn’t cubed.) Decide if you want to add more ham to your soup based on the ham bone you are using.
When I make this recipe in the slow cooker I usually just soak the beans overnight, but if you pre-soak for 24 hours you can knock off an hour or two from the cooking times (see slow cooker directions). The soup is done when then beans are cooked to the texture you prefer. I like very soft beans and thick soup, hence the longer cook time on this recipe. For a thinner soup or more firm beans, adjust the cooking time down.
This time around I made the soup in my Instant Pot, and for that you don’t need to pre-soak the beans at all. The total time to prepare the soup in the Instant Pot will be around 1 1/2 hours (compared to about 12 1/2 hours for the slow cooked version).