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).
- 1 pound dry navy beans, rinsed and picked over (if slow cooking the soup, pre-soak the beans)
- 2 cups chopped celery (plus celery leaves too if you have them)
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- ham bone with some meat on it
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2-3 shakes of Tabasco sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups cubed ham (from leftovers or cut from a thick ham steak)
- Place the soaked beans in the bottom of the crock. Top with the chopped celery and onion and garlic.
- Add the ham bone and the spices (pepper, smoked paprika, Tabasco and bay leaf). Pour water over all. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.
- Add the cubed ham, cover and continue cooking another 1-2 hours (judge doneness by checking bean softness; if you presoaked the beans for 24 hours, add the beans and cubed ham after 6 hours of cooking, and cook a total of 8-9 hours on LOW).
- Remove the bay leaf and carefully remove the ham bone from the pot.
- Place the ham bone on a cutting board and remove any edible meat from it; chop or shred the meat and add it back to the pot; stir the soup and serve.
- Add the water to the instant pot, then add in the remaining ingredients: beans, celery, onion, seasonings, extra ham and then nestle the ham bone down into the ingredients. Make sure the beans are fully submerged.
- Cover the Instant Pot and lock the lid. Make sure the nozzle on top is set to "Sealing" position. Use the "Manual" button to adjust the time to 45 minutes and make sure your machine is set to "High Pressure."
- When cooking time is done, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes, then turn the nozzle to "Venting" position to release any remaining pressure.
- Open the lid, remove the bay leaf and carefully remove the ham bone from the pot.
- Place the bone on a cutting board and remove any edible meat from it; chop or shred the meat and add it back to the pot; stir the soup and serve.