Ham-bone Soup

 My favorite time of year...

My favorite foods after a holiday are left-overs and I'm not talking turkey. Sure, any pieces of meat makes for a fine pot of turkey dumplings, a breakfast helping of turkey hash over grits or a casserole of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans with a cheesy sauce. Yep, those are some fine eating. But my favorite left-overs are the poultry carcass and the ham bone. Combined with a few scraps of meat and I'm on my way to cooking heaven.

This recipe relies on the versatile dried beans with a whole lot of help from that ham bone. Maybe you did not cook a ham for the holiday, maybe you've got one stored in the freezer or maybe you just might have to wait until after you do cook one. Heck, this soup is so good, I would cook a ham just for the sake of having the bone. Now they sell in the stores bags of mixed beans and I have bought it at times. If you are like me, you probably have numerous partial or half bags of dried beans tucked away in the pantry. Now is the time to do a little clearing out. Use whatever beans you have, whatever kind you like and whatever makes for a pretty bowl of color. I like a lot of variety in this one and I try to use as many types and colors of beans as possible.

Long ago, in southern kitchens (out back of the main house) heavy cast iron pots simmered gently throughout the day making all kinds of soups, stews, gumbos and the favorite red beans. The cooking help would put on the vessel early in the morning and go about the business of cleaning, washing clothes and shopping the markets. Coming back to it every so often to meddle a bit, add a tad of this and that, secrets that only a good Creole cook knew, and tend to the fire all while the making of a fine meal was slowing melding together. In other words, don't start this on a day when you need a quick fix. It takes time to develop character or in this case, a good part of the day. Enjoy!

Ham-bone Soup
Serves 8 to 10

1 1/2 pounds (24 oz) mixed dried beans such as navy, northern, white kidney, large lima, baby lima, pinto, black eyed, cranberry, pink, small red, green spit pea, yellow split pea, lentil or black - any combination will be good, the more the better
3 quarts water
bean medley
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning (with salt)

1 left-over ham bone
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped ham
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 large onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or freeze-dried
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
Pinch of thyme
cooked ham bone
1 cup corn kernels(I like shoepeg)
2 -14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse beans in a deep bowl removing any unwanted and rinse several times. Place in a slow cooker with the water, vinegar and Creole mix. Set cooker on warm heat overnight or on low heat for several hours until hydrated. You can also cook stove-top for a few hours if you are home stirring every so often. Drain the beans in a colander.

Add the ham bone and the next 11 ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer (not boiling) on lowest heat for a couple of hours. In a slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours, or 8 hours on low if you are working that day.

Remove bone if desired and cut any meat from the bone adding the ham back to the pot. Skim off any grease from the top of the broth. Add the beans, bring to just under a boil and then simmer on low until beans are done and mixture has thickened just a bit, about an hour. Stir in the corn and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook on lowest heat another hour or so. If continuing using the slow cooker, add ingredients and cook on high heat for 2 hours or until beans are nice and soft.

Serve with hot cornbread, corn muffins or crusty French bread.

Note: If the beans are still a bit firm when adding to the pot, hold off on adding the tomatoes until the beans have softened up a bit. Tomatoes will work against the bean's ability in absorption.


  1. I love ham bone especially in soups and cabbage amazing how good it is for you....love the stuff your soup looks awesome!

  2. There is nothing like a big pot of beans with a big ole hambone in it (maybe splitpea soup,too) I keep a couple of hambones in the freezer at all times. Your soup sounds lovely.

  3. Perfect timing! I just happen to have a ham bone in the fridge ready to go into a pot and a couple of partial bags of those same beans (too funny!). I wasn't sure what I was going to do with that bone but now, guess what's for dinner tomorrow? Thanks once again for the inspiration!

  4. Well, you have inspired me to cook a ham and since I'm having guests for the weekend, it will be perfect. Then on Monday, we're getting another cold front, and this soup will be perfect, then! Love everything about it and it looks fabulous! Thanks for another great recipe, cher! Cheers!

  5. Scotland is suffering from below freezing weather. Need loads of this lovely soup. I need to learn more ways to use beans. This looks really delicious. How's your little doggy doing? He's so cute and pretty. Did you give him the bones as present? :P

  6. Love your Creole seasoning!
    This is another wonderful dish...I usually add a ham bone to my meat versions of soups for my kids (and bacon too). I think they are adopted, oh actually I guess it would be me that is odd ;)

  7. This looks perfect. One of our many traditions is ham on christmas and beans cooked with the ham hock for New Years. I really like the addition of corn and your cajun spices here, sounds like an improvement that will be in our future soon :)

  8. Believe it or not, I have actually cooked a ham just so I would have a hambone to make soup. Really. A big pot of this soup and some fresh cornbread = good eating!

  9. Have I told you before that I like the way you think? I'm sure I have. My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the turkey carcass gumbo afterwards.

    This is a great, hearty soup. Thanks for linking it to See ya In the Gumbo...a mighty fine addition!

  10. Making this recipe tomorrow after making Alton Brown's "City Ham" recipe. I was sick of split pea soup and thought I'd give this a shot...

  11. I'm so glad to see this soup on here! I wanted a ham bone soup that wasn't split pea. Thank you!

  12. I followed this recipe completely & it's probably the best soup I ever made. I used 1 1/2 bags of assorted bean, using the recommended crock pot method & they were perfect. I love it! Thank you for sharing!

  13. For the crockpot...you cook the beans and then add in the ham, etc? Or do you cook ham by itself then combine with the cooked beans at the end?

  14. @Alicia - I tend to make a stock first (cooking the ham bone to death) before adding the beans, but then, when making something like this, I don't mind it taking most of the day (stovetop version).
    For the crockpot version, I suggested cooking the hambone first to make the stock (overnight) and then add the beans cooking until soft (2 hrs on high).
    To speed time, certainly you could cook the hambone, with the ham scraps in the crockpot along with the soaked beans and the flavor would come together great.

  15. Thanks Drick! I have this simmering on my stove today. Really looking forward to it. I accidentally bought cajun seasoning instead of creole without realizing there was a difference. Hopefully it won't be too firey!
    Great blog and thanks for the response!

  16. Hubby made your soup and it was amazing!!!!! I love a hearty soup with lots of veggies and this had it all.

  17. Wonderful! I had only canned beans but after making the ham broth as directed on the stove I added canned creamed creole navy beans, drained black eyed peas, and drained black beans with another cut up potato and it was very yummy. I only used one can of diced tomatoes and it seemed like enough and I will definitely make again. My husband loved it and we are taking some to a bedridden friend tomorrow. Thanks!


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