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Italian White Bean and Ham Soup

Hearty Italian Soup with beans and ham in a savory broth.

Aroma of Italy

The aroma of an Italian restaurant permeates the whole house while this supper soup simmers away. It is fresh and savory the first day but enjoy it the second day when the flavors meld into an even richer blend. January is National Soup month and what better time is there to have a hearty, one dish meal.

Recipe: Italian White Bean and Ham Soup

Prep Time: 20 Minutes, plus soaking the beans overnight | Cook Time: 2 1/2 Hours | Yield: 13 Cups | Level: Easy


  • 1 16 oz pkg dried white beans, Navy or Great northern
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 cups chicken broth, fat-free and low sodium
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley, or 2 t dried
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

1 Sort and rinse beans then cover with water and let soak overnight.

2 Heat the oil in large pot over a medium fire. Add onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 1 minute while keeping the veggies in motion.

3 Next, except the salt and pepper, add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until beans are tender stirring occasionally. discard bay leaves and thyme twigs.

4 With a spider or slotted spoon lift out the ham hocks and cool long enough to handle without burning fingers. Pull meat from bones and dice or shred anything that doesn’t already fall apart.

5 Place 1 1/2 cups of beans in a blender, and whirl until smooth or put the beans in a bowl and have a go at it with an immersion blender. Then swirl the creamy puree back into pot along with ham to thicken soup. Salt and pepper to taste.

Quicker Beans – If you forgot to put the beans on to soak the night before you can speed this soup 3 different ways. 1) Cook the beans for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. 2) Use lentils adding them dry after the onions and garlic are cooked with the other ingredients. They don’t need to be soaked and cook rather fast. 3) use three 15 oz cans of rinsed beans and substitute diced for ham hocks. Cook for only 20-30 minutes to marry flavors.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange ham hocks for a ham bone left over from your holiday ham dinner.
  • Exchange navy or great northern for cannellini beans.
  • Using a very large pot, double the recipe and ladle the extra soup in quart freezer zipper pouches or containers and squirrel away in the deep freeze for busy days.

Inspiration – Cooking Light and Joann Weir
Cook with Sauces
Written: by
Photographs: by Helen Horton
Updated: April 3, 2012

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5 Responses to Italian White Bean and Ham Soup

  1. Audrey January 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    I really love the way this recipe is written. It makes me hungry to read it. The soup was really good and it was more filling than I was expecting. Great recipe.

  2. Sharon Larson January 25, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I love this recipe. Bean soup is a favorite of mine. Sometimes I come home from work and just grab homemade soup from the freezer for a quick dinner. I don’t know the best way to heat up soup that has been frozen in freezer bags… Try to rip off the bag to get rid of the plastice before heating? Drop whole bag in a pot of simmering water to defrost the soup? Just put the bag in the microwave and defrost? Fast but safe heating is my goal… Do you have any tips/suggestions? Thanks!!!

    • helenhorton January 25, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Store 2-4 cups of soup in a quart size freezer bag. Take it out of the freezer and place in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to loosen the bag. Over a bowl large enough to catch the chunk of soup, open the zipper and cut the bag away. Use the microwave to defrost and heat the soup. You can also store individual size portions and heat using this same method.

      • Sharon February 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

        Thanks! I will try it. It sounds much easier and better than storing it in larger bags.

  3. Joanna November 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    This is delicious! After a few tries, I found we like it best after it has been frozen a defrosted. Such a treasure in the freezer for a midweek meal!

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