My Mom’s Ham & Bean Soup

My Mom’s Northern White Ham & Bean Soup Recipe

Delicious bean soup just like my mom made! Growing up in the Midwest, winters were cold. For a long time. One of my favorite meals was my Mom’s ham & bean soup. I still love it today. I just made it again yesterday.

Take your freshly grown garden beans or dry northern white beans from the store and turn them into a delightful bean soup meal for the family.

What You Need 
1 pound navy or great northern beans
1 ham bone, with some meat on it
1 cup ham, diced but with some bite size chunks. We prefer ham that we’ve smoked for hours with apple and hickory wood.
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk sliced
1 carrot – diced. This adds a nice, natural sweetness and a bit of color
1 medium to large onion, depending on your preference
2 cloves fresh garlic
fresh ground pepper

Soak beans

Best beans to use are northern beans, but you can use navy beans. If they are dry beans, be sure to soak overnight by adding water 2-4 inches above the beans. The soaking helps if beans gives you gas. Soaking loosens the skins, and releases the gas-causing oligasacherides and converts the complex sugars into more digestible form. Soak until there’s no loose skin on the beans and the beans have doubled in size.


If beans are fresh soak for a few hours in water before cooking. (Quick soak by boiling for 2 minutes and let cool for an hour)

Boil these ingredients in a large soup pot 
Drain water from beans, rinse and add 2 quarts fresh water. Add the ham bone (after cutting most of the edible bits from the bone, leaving some to flavor the soup). Add sage, bay leaf and a generous quantity of freshly ground pepper, not just for flavor but to help with bean digestion. Bring to a boil. Skim the foam and then simmer covered for 60 – 120 minutes (lower time if you’re not a mile above sea level like us). Stir every 15 minutes or so to keep from sticking/burning to the pan. Taste a bean here and there because you want them soft & mushy.

Add last ingredients and cook until tender 
Remove bone/ham hock from the soup and bay leaf. If there is any meat on it, let it cool, trim off and add back into the soup. Take about 2 cups of beans from the pot and mash them with a potato masher in a large bowl. Add the bean mush back in for a smoother soup with more thickness. 


Add vegetables to the soup. I don’t use salt since the ham provides that. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Enjoy with cornbread or just by itself.