Recipe: Ham-and-Bean Soup

Southerners know the key to comfort is adding a ham bone to a slow-cooked meal.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Our best-ever version of ham-and-bean soup.

Like a turkey after Thanksgiving, a leftover Easter ham is the gift that keeps on giving. And giving, and giving, and giving. Until you can’t even look at another ham and cheese sandwich.

Which is exactly the right time to get out your slow cooker and whip up a pot of Ham-and-Bean Soup, the very best thing to make with a leftover Easter ham. In fact, I think this soup is reason enough to make a ham other times of the year besides Easter. (Or just pick up a ham bone at the grocery store.)

This simple soup is a test kitchen favorite. It’s hearty, comforting, and just the right thing to eat in early spring, when the weather still hasn’t quite warmed up yet. Made with a leftover ham bone, dried white beans, chopped carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, chicken stock, and fresh thyme, the recipe comes together in 15 minutes, then simmers all day in a slow cooker. It’s about as hands-off as homemade dinner can be, and you probably have most of the ingredients already in your kitchen.

WATCH: Honey Bourbon Glazed Ham

A large, meaty bone works best in this savory soup—and allows you to use up every single scrap of ham. When the soup is done cooking, remove the bone from the slow cooker with kitchen tongs and set the bone aside until it is cool enough to handle. Then remove the meat from the bone and set the meat aside, discarding the bone along with any fat and gristle. Shred the reserved meat if necessary and add it back to the soup.

Round out the meal with a simple salad of mixed greens and some skillet cornbread and you’ve got a homey supper that also makes a great lunch. It freezes well too!