Ham Hock-And-Black Bean Soup

A Maryland favorite from the St. Mary's County Community Affairs Committee.

Ham hock-and-black bean soup in blue bowl with bread

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Micah Morton; Prop Stylist: Jillian Knox

Active Time:
45 mins
Soak Time:
12 hrs
Additional Time:
5 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
18 hrs 45 mins


  • 2 cups dried black beans

  • 6-8 smoked ham hocks

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into medium cubes (2 cups)

  • 2 celery stalks, cut into medium cubes (1 cup)

  • 1 carrot, cut into medium cubes (1 cup)

  • 2 (6-inch) flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus fresh parsley leaves for garnish

  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 2 lemons)

  • 3 Tbsp. cold water

  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt


  1. Place beans in a medium bowl; add water to cover. Cover bowl; let beans soak at room temperature for 12 hours. Drain and set aside.

  2. Place ham hocks in a large Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-low, and cover and simmer, undisturbed, until tender, 2 to 3 hours. Transfer ham hocks from Dutch oven to a cutting board, and cut meat into small pieces; set meat aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Discard bones. Place meat in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Set ham hock liquid aside.

  3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high. Add onion; cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add reserved beans, reserved ham hock liquid, celery, carrot, parsley sprigs, lemon zest, and lemon juice to onions. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, adding water as needed to keep beans covered. Remove and discard parsley sprigs.

  4. Stir together cold water and flour in a small bowl to form a paste; add to pot, stirring until thick and smooth. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt to soup. Add reserved ham hock meat, and stir until well combined and ham is heated through, about 4 minutes. Divide soup evenly among 8 bowls, and garnish with parsley leaves.

Adapted with permission from 300 Years of Black Cooking in St. Mary's County Maryland. St. Mary's County Community Affairs Committee, 1983.

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