This easy recipe for ham and bean soup comes together quickly in your pressure cooker, for a wholesome and nourishing meal. Thick rich tomato broth with salty ham and hearty lima beans just taste so good together, especially on a cold winter’s day. This Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup recipe is a must-make for soup season!
Every year on Christmas Eve, my mom prepares a bone-in spiral-cut ham. One of the things that I love about our holiday traditions, is that I know exactly what to expect for the meal because it is the same every year. Ham, Broccoli, Rice & Cheese Casserole, Hashbrown Potato Casserole, corn, and rolls.
Then, the following week, she prepares this Ham & Bean Soup in her pressure cooker. She has the old-style pressure cooker, the same one she has had my entire life.
This soup recipe comes from my grandma, her mother. She called it Lima Bean Soup but mom has always referred to it as Ham and Bean Soup. This great recipe is the perfect way to feed the whole family a warm bowl of soup. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or weekend lunch. It tastes even better the next day. (if you have any leftovers)
This post is sponsored by Iowa Pork but the opinions here and my love of Iowa Pork are all my own.
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Grandma’s Ham and Bean Soup
Most people who try this soup for the first time are surprised by its color, my husband included. Typically, ham and bean soup is more white in color, I know that is how my husband’s mother made it.
Our family recipe always used tomato juice instead of stock or water. It intensifies the flavor simply and deliciously.
Ways to Use Leftover Ham
Groceries are more expensive than ever. This year I have pledged to show my readers how to stretch their dollar and their meals by giving them options to take one meal and turn that meal into countless others. My Grandma’s Ham and Bean Soup is the perfect example.
My grandma never wasted food. She was an amazing cook, and this soup shows how using the ham bone from a previously cooked ham, combined with a few pantry staples and give you a warm and comforting meal.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SMOKED AND CURED HAMS
I know some people that confuse smoked hams with cured hams. Just to make matters more confusing, there are also “fresh” as well as “smoked and cured” hams. A cured ham means the ham has been soaked in a brine solution but may come either cooked or uncooked. Fresh ham refers to the type of cut which is the back top thigh of the leg.
Fresh ham is neither cured nor cooked so it must be cured and cooked first! You will be able to see on the label clearly if the ham is “ready to eat” or must be cooked first. Usually, you only get fresh ham if you ask the butcher for it. The hams you see in the meat department of your grocery store are typically cooked, cured, and possibly smoked and cured.
The photos you see here are of a Double Smoked Ham with a Homemade Honey Glaze. I make it on the Traeger. It’s our favorite way to prepare ham at home.
Internal Cooking Temperature of Ham
You may wonder if the internal cooking temperature of smoked or precooked ham really matters, and the answer is yes. Even if a ham is previously cooked or smoked, when cooking it at home, you will want the internal temperature of the ham to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.
Iowa Pork’s Website contains precise cooking times and temperatures for all cuts of pork. They even have this handy guide. Bookmark it to easily refer to it.
How To Tell if Ham & Bean Soup is Done?
For this soup recipe, there is no guessing on whether or not the ham is done. It’s cooked prior to adding the ham and the ham bone to the Instapot to complete the process of making the soup. The soup is done when the ham falls from the bone and the beans are tender.
Ingredients Needed To Make This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe
You will find the complete ingredients and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Hambone – I used one ham bone with ham left on it but you can also use ham hocks or ham shanks. If you want a more meaty soup, chop up some ham from the grocery store and toss it in.
- Tomato juice – I used a quart of tomato juice.
- Onion – I used half a medium onion, chopped, though any kind of cooking onion will work.
- Lima Beans – I used one package of dried lima beans.
- Baking soda – I added some baking soda which helps reduce the impact of beans on your stomach as well as help the beans cook faster.
- Water – Just simple tap water is needed to soak the lima beans.
- Black pepper – I seasoned the soup with freshly ground black pepper. White pepper will work but will give it a smoky flavor.
How To Make Ham and Bean Soup
This a quick and easy recipe that uses a hambone and minimal and economical ingredients.
The night before: Rinse lima beans and place them in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with baking soda and cover them with cold water. Let them soak overnight. (or at least 8 hours). Throw away the soaking water.
And give them a good rinse under cool water.
Place the ham bone in the pressure cooker.
Tip: You will want to leave some ham on the bone when you carve it if you plan to make soup. Or you can dice up leftover ham to toss in the soup before it cooks.
Next, Add in the soaked beans, tomato juice, and onion, and sprinkle with black pepper.
Note: When my mom makes this soup she only uses about 2/3 of the soaked beans, so that is what I did, too. It’s about 3 cups of beans. I prefer more broth in my soup, and the beans do soak up a lot of the liquid. If you like a thicker soup, use all of the beans. We both, however, never add salt to this recipe because the ham has plenty.
Then, Set your instant pot to manual and 25 minutes. When the instant pot is done cooking, let it do a slow release for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure before removing the lid.
Finally, Remove the ham from the bone and chop. Put the ham back in the soup and serve it hot.
Other Cooking Methods:
To make ham and bean soup in the crock pot, follow the same directions and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
To cook the soup on the stovetop in a dutch oven, a large soup pot, or a large stock pot, follow the same prep and cook soup covered, over low heat, for about 90 minutes, or until the beans reach the desired tenderness and the ham falls from the bone.
Love it? Pin it!
If you love this ham soup recipe make sure you don’t lose it! Pin it to your favorite Pinterest recipe board before you go!
DID YOU KNOW THAT ONE-THIRD OF THE PORK RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES COMES FROM IOWA?
I bet many of you don’t know this, but my husband grew up on a farm in rural Iowa. His dad grew corn and soybeans and raised hogs, and he owned the local fertilizer and anhydrous business.
When I took my first trip to the farm to meet his parents, they couldn’t get over what a “city girl” he had brought home. I know, if you are reading this from NYC or LA, you probably think, “Omaha?? Big City??”
But compared to his town of 300, it’s a big city. I had never seen a hog up close or even knew what a combine was. We spent many many weekends there in the early days of our marriage and family. Our kids grew up riding in tractors, feeding the farm cats, and knew what it meant when he said “that’s the smell of money.”
You see, those crops and those hogs were their livelihoods. When you purchase pork in your grocery store anywhere across the United States, you are supporting local family farms in Iowa and other parts of the U.S.
No matter how big or small the farm is, know that there is always a family behind it doing the work.
FAQs About Making Ham & Bean Soup
- What kind of beans do you put in ham soup? I used lima beans in this soup but I think any white bean like cannellini, white kidney, navy beans, or great northern beans will all work well. To avoid an additional trip to the grocery check to see if you have one of these other beans on hand.
- How do you thicken Ham and Bean Soup? If you want to thicken up your soup you can add more beans or tomato paste. You can also create a mixture of cornstarch or flour with water and pour it into the soup. I sometimes use an immersion blender to puree some of the soup or mash the beans with a potato masher when I want a thicker soup.
- What to add to beans to make them taste better? If you want to enhance the flavor of the beans, add herbs like fresh parsley or rosemary. Dried herbs and a few bay leaves will also work if added to the pressure cooker.
- What kind of beans do you put in ham and beans? Though this recipe calls for lima beans you can really use the bean of your choice.
- Why are my beans mushy in Instant Pot? If your beans are too mushy it could be because you cooked them too long. Also, canned beans are more likely to get mushy than dried beans.
- Do I need to soak beans before cooking in Instant Pot? There is some debate about soaking vs not soaking beans before cooking in the Instant Pot. I was taught to soak my beans. My Mom and my Grandma always did. And you know what they say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”
- Can you overcook beans in Instant Pot? Anything is possible! To avoid overcooking this recipe, check for doneness at the 25-minute mark.
- Do you pressure cook beans on high or low? I’d suggest cooking dried beans on high in the pressure cooker.
- How long does it take to cook dried beans in a pressure cooker? The cook time should be between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the kind of bean.
Change up the beans for a different white bean like cannellini, white kidney, navy, or great northern. Note that the cooking time is based on soaked, dry beans. Not canned beans.
Instead of tomato juice use clamato or vegetable juice.
Use chicken broth or chicken stock instead of water.
Tips and Tricks
Keep a smoked ham hock in the freezer so you can easily make this soup as all the other ingredients are shelf-stable pantry items.
Don’t throw away leftover ham bone or leftover holiday ham, store them in the freezer.
This soup freezes well so make a double batch and stash half in the freezer in an airtight container to eat at a later date. Freezing is such a great way to ensure you always have homemade food on hand when life gets busy. You can rewarm the delicious soup at medium heat in a saucepan on the stovetop.
No need to bring the soup to room temperature before placing it in the fridge or freezer.
MORE RECIPES AND WAYS TO ENJOY PORK
No matter the cut, or how it’s prepared, pork is served at our family table frequently. Pork is packed with protein and has gained a reputation as white meat.
See how pork compares nutritionally to other meats. Also, find your guide to the leanest cuts of pork and see how pork producers have responded to consumers’ demands for leaner pork.
Here are some more pork recipes for you to enjoy:
- Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy (pictured above)
- Smoked Pork Loin
- Baked Pork Chops with Stuffing & Mushroom Gravy
- Bacon-Wrapped Pork Ribs
- Green Chile Quiche with Sausage
- Breaded Pork Cutlets
- Fuggedaboutit Pork Roast
- Slow Cooker Glazed Ham
- Five Bean Ham & Rice Salad
See All of my Soup Recipes, my Instant Pot Recipes, and my Pork Recipes
Every time I make this ham and bean soup recipe it not only warms my body but warms my soul knowing grandma is thrilled I am still eating this soup decades after she first made it for me. Make it for your family and let me know how they enjoy it.
- 1 ham bone, with ham left on it
- 1 quart tomato juice
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 (16 ounce) package Lima Beans
- 2 Tablespoons baking soda
- black pepper
- The night before: Rinse lima beans and place them in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with baking soda and cover them with water. Let them soak overnight. (or at least 8 hours)
- Place the ham bone in the pressure cooker. Add in beans, tomato juice, and onion, and sprinkle with black pepper.
- Set your instant pot to manual and 25 minutes. When the instant pot is done cooking, let it do a slow release for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure before removing the lid.
- Remove ham from the bone and chop. Put the ham back in the soup and serve it hot.
My grandma called this Lima Bean Soup.
When my mom makes it, she only uses about 2/3 of the soaked beans, so that is what I did, too. (about 3 cups of them) I prefer more broth in my soup, and the beans do soak up a lot of the liquid. If you like a thicker soup, use all of the beans.
We never add salt to this recipe because the ham has plenty.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 1264mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g
Please note that nutrition is not guaranteed accurate.