A white bean and ham soup, perfect for cold winter days! White beans, pork shanks, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, Tabasco and herbs make this delicious ham and bean soup a fresh weather classic.
When the weather gets cold, and all you want to do is stay warm, the best thing to do is prepare a large pot of hearty soup. On such days, nothing is more comforting than this ham and bean soup (well, maybe some fluffy wool slippers, but you can’t eat them!).
The best ham and bean soup – a family classic
This ham and bean soup is one of my favorite recipes on the site, and the one my father has been making for the family for decades. He makes a large quantity of it (double the amount) and as it improves over the days, we will enjoy it one evening at dinner and several days later at lunch.
How is it that some stews and soups get better the next day? I think it’s because the flavors of the beans, ham and vegetables have time to blend. The starch in the beans settles more in the broth, making the soup thicker and closer to the stew.
1 pound or 2 1/2 cups of dry white beans – Cannellini or Great Northern
2 liters of water
2 to 3 pounds of pork shanks or smoked ham
2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence, or Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onions (about 1 small onion)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2-3 ribs)
2/3 cup chopped carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Soak the dried beans in hot water: Fill a pan large enough to hold the beans with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the beans and soak for about 2 hours. Drain the water.
2 Prepare the ham broth: While the beans are soaking in step 1, place the pork shanks or knuckles in a large separate saucepan and cover with 2 liters of water. Add herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning. Heat over high heat until the water starts to simmer, then lower the heat, cover partially and maintain the heat for about an hour.
3 Sauté the onions: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
4 Add vegetables and beans to ham broth: Once the shanks or pork shanks have simmered for one hour, add the drained and soaked beans from step 1, chopped onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Cook for about 40 minutes more, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and the ham meat comes off the bone easily. Remove the ham bones from the soup and remove the meat from the ham and return it to the soup. Discard the bones.
5 Season to taste: Add a few drops of Tabasco to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.