Hearty Comfort Food: Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup Recipe Yum

October 20, 2023 4 min read

As the leaves change color and the temperatures drop, there's nothing quite like a warm, hearty bowl of soup to provide comfort and nourishment. When it comes to classic comfort food, Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup takes center stage. This timeless dish has been cherished by generations for its rich, savory flavors and wholesome ingredients. In this article, we'll not only explore the heartwarming history of this soup but also provide you with a step-by-step recipe to create your own comforting pot of Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup. So, grab your apron, because we're about to embark on a culinary journey that will warm your soul.

The History of Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup

Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup is a dish deeply rooted in American culinary tradition. It reflects the resourcefulness of early American settlers who made the most of simple, readily available ingredients. Beans and ham were common staples in many households and combining them into a hearty soup was both delicious and practical.

In the United States, the tradition of using ham in soups can be traced back to the 17th century when English colonists brought their culinary customs to the New World. The practice of slow-cooking beans with ham hocks or smoked ham has become a hallmark of American comfort food, providing sustenance during long, cold winters and a source of warmth and nourishment for families.

The Nutritional Value of Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup

Before we dive into the recipe, let's explore the nutritional goodness that this classic soup offers:

  1. Protein: Ham provides a significant source of protein, essential for muscle growth and repair, as well as overall body function. Beans also contribute to the protein content, making this soup a hearty and satisfying meal.
  2. Fiber: Great Northern beans are packed with dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion and aiding in weight management. A diet rich in fiber has been linked to reduced cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals: Ham is a source of important vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as B6, B12, niacin, and riboflavin), zinc, and phosphorus. Great Northern beans are rich in folate, a B vitamin necessary for DNA synthesis and repair.
  4. Satisfying and Filling: This soup's combination of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates provides a sense of fullness and satisfaction, making it a fantastic comfort food option.
  5. Low in Fat: While ham adds flavor, it's essential to use it in moderation to keep the soup's fat content in check. Opting for lean ham or trimming excess fat can make this soup a healthier choice.

Recipe: Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup

Now that you know about the history and nutritional value of this beloved soup, let's get to the best part – making it at home. Here's a simple recipe for Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup that you can enjoy with your family and friends.


  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, dried
  • 1 pound ham, diced (you can use ham hocks or a ham bone for added flavor)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the Beans: Start by rinsing the dried Great Northern beans and picking out any debris. Then, soak them overnight in a large pot filled with enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
  2. Sauté the Aromatics: In a large soup pot, heat a bit of oil or butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pot with the sautéed vegetables. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, add the diced ham, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir everything together.
  4. Simmer: Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.
  5. Season: Season the soup with salt and black pepper to taste. Keep in mind that the ham is already salty, so go easy on the salt initially and adjust as needed.
  6. Serve: Once the beans are tender and the soup is flavorful, remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy with your favorite crusty bread or crackers.

Variations and Tips:

  • Vegetarian Option: If you're looking for a vegetarian version, simply omit the ham and use vegetable broth. You can enhance the flavor with smoked paprika or liquid smoke.
  • Slow Cooker: This soup can also be made in a slow cooker. Just combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker, set it on low, and let it cook for about 6-8 hours.
  • Freezing: Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup freezes well. Portion it into airtight containers, leaving some room for expansion, and freeze for a comforting meal on a busy day.


Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup is more than just a meal; it's a slice of American culinary history and a heartwarming bowl of comfort. As you savor the rich flavors and nutritional goodness of this classic soup, you're not only enjoying a delicious meal but also a tradition that has stood the test of time. So, bring this hearty and wholesome soup to your table, and let it warm your body and soul. Whether you're in the mood for a cozy dinner or a weekend family feast, this recipe will undoubtedly become a cherished favorite. Enjoy the nourishing embrace of Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup – a true comfort food classic.

   Try our USDA certified organic Great Northern Beans 

Roasted Vegetable & Great Northern Bean Soup

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