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Easy White Bean Soup Recipe With Ham

This classic soup gets a makeover with easy ingredients and a hint of heat thanks to Gochujang, Korean chili paste. Canned beans and jarred roasted bell peppers ups the laziness-level of this Winter-favorite soup.

White bowl of White Bean Soup.

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About White Bean Soup

White Bean Soup has travelled around the World many times and is likely still traveling through massive migration. Most beans, except the fava bean, originated in South America and Mexico. When explorers found the New World, they traded goods for beans and brought them back to Europe where they were cultivated and spread further through trade.

The Native Americans prepared beans in various ways, including making soup. Before the explorers came, they made their soup in clay pots.

Europeans took the new beans for the New World and made Bean Soup. The Croatians made Grah I Verivah, a simple but flavorful bean and sausage soup. The Hungarians made a similar soup called Bab Leves, and upped the flavor profile with paprika, vinegar and sour cream.

These and other bean soups made their way back to North America with the settlers.

There are many varieties of the white bean cultivar, each having their own distinct characteristics. You can make a bean soup out of any white bean but knowing something about their characteristics can help you develop the soup you want.

Steaming pot.

Types of White Beans

Navy – A small soft bean with a mild taste that absorbs other flavors easily. They are also called Boston beans and don’t hold their shape very well when exposed to long cooking times, which is why I love to use them to thicken soups and stews. When the navy bean starts to fall apart, starches are released, thickening whatever dish you are stewing.

Cannellini – Also known as the White Kidney Bean, this larger bean holds it’s shape well and has a more assertive flavor than the Navy Bean.

Great Northern – A medium sized bean, larger and more sturdier than navy beans but smaller than cannellinis.

Lima – A variety of beans including baby lima and butter beans. This thick skinned bean holds it’s shape well and has a distinctive texture all its own. The thicker skin gives it a nice bite while the buttery, soft center has a softer mouth-feel.

White bowl of White Bean Soup.

Why I Love This Soup

It’s easy and relatively fast to make with lots of shortcuts. You can definitely slow down and use dried beans but I use canned beans frequently because I’m a busy person, sometimes a little too busy.

I made a lot of shortcuts here but was still able to develop many levels of flavor thanks to jarred smoked bell pepper and Korean chili paste, in addition to frying aromatics as usual.

White bowl of White Bean Soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is White Bean Soup good for you? – YES! White beans add protein, fiber and micronutrients to your soup. Add some vegetables and you have a healthy powerhouse of a soup.
  • What is the thickener in bean soup? – I like to use two types of beans when I make soup. Navy beans fall apart a little bit and adds starch into your soup, thickening it naturally. You could also partially mash any bean soup to get the same effect. The earlier in your soup making process that you do this, the thicker the soup. You could also use potatoes or short-grained rice to achieve the same thing. If you are pressed for time, potato flakes work really well too, a little goes a long way though so add these slowly.
  • How can I make this soup vegetarian? – Use vegetarian broth and substitute smoked paprika and butter beans for the ham.

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How To Make This Soup

White bowl of White Bean Soup.
Gather you ingredients.
Chopped celery and onion on cutting board.
Chop your vegetables.
Ham and bacon fat in large pot.
Start cooking your aromatics starting with fat and ham. Cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the ham starts to leave brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Ham, celery and onion in large pot.
Add the vegetables, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate those tasty brown bits at the bottom.
Remaining spices and flavors added to large pot.
Add your spices and herbs. Cook for a few minutes to wake up and bloom the spices.
White bowl of White Bean Soup.
Add the broth and the rest of the ingredients but saving the spinach for the end. Simmer until done, add spinach and cook a few more minutes until wilted. Stir in the vinegar and serve with optional garnishes to make pretty.

White bowl of White Bean Soup.
White bowl of White Bean Soup.
White bowl of White Bean Soup.

Easy White Bean Soup Recipe With Ham

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This classic soup gets a makeover with easy ingredients and a hint of heat thanks to Gochujang, Korean chili paste. Canned beans and jarred roasted bell peppers ups the laziness-level of this Winter-favorite soup.


  • 4 Tbs oil (veg, corn, canola, grapeseed)
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 2 cups diced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers from a jar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TBS Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 6 cups of vegetable of chicken broth
  • 2 15 oz cans of white beans (may also use pinto, canellini beans)
  • 3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar

Optional garnishes

  • scallions, fresh herbs, sour cream, crispy onions


  1. In a large dutch oven, add oil and heat over medium high heat, add ham and stir occasionally. Cook 5 minutes and remove ham from pot and set aside.
  2. To the pot, add onions and celery, stirring occasionally until soft.
  3. Add roasted bell peppers, bay leaves, salt, garlic and gochujang, stir well and cook for one more minutes.
  4. Add stock, beans and spinach. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar, stir well, remove from heat and serve with optional garnishes and crusty bread.


Make this vegetarian by substituting smoked paprika and butter beans in place of the ham. Also be sure to use vegetable or vegan broth.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 1138mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 20gSugar: 15gProtein: 32g

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History of Dried Beans

Navy Bean

Cherokee Soup

Native American Cooking


Tuesday 29th of March 2022

Another great soup! I love the twist on the old favorite. The broth was delicious.


Monday 22nd of August 2022

@Tina, I used the Gochujang! Making this again tonight :D


Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Glad you liked it Hannah! Did you use Gochujang or did you substitute? I Love that chili paste and I've been adding it to a lot of roasted veggies and soups:)

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