Looking for a ham and beans recipe? Get the original and the variants!

Cooking can act as a therapy. You must have heard that multiple times, but in the last week that you were vacationing at a home-stay, you did try some dishes and very soon graduated from crunchy bed crumbs for breakfast to an instant pot for lunch! Congratulations then. So, how about some dinner planning? Choosing a ham and beans recipe for dinner? Fair enough, easy dish, less time, work well to fill stomachs! 

Historically, ham and beans is a native American dish, which to date is served at Senate dinners. So, if you wish to go in for the traditional format, then that’s absolutely fine as a starting point. But what if you wanted some tweaks and turned to it? Say, for example – how about checking out its French and German gourmet? Or do you wish to flamenco with its Spanish tradition? Here’s all you want to know – 

Start with traditional – The Native American style 

This is the starting point of the very famous and comforting ham and beans recipe. Holding strong to traditions, it is based on this that other variations have been made. 

A list of all that you need 

  • Navy or white beans (2 cups)
  • Roughly cut carrots – (1 1/2 cups)
  • Parmesan rind (6 inches maximum)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Celery in the diced format (1 cup). Celery stalks also work – get 2 stalks 
  • Chicken stock (6 cups)
  • Onion finely chopped (1 medium size)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper 
  • 1 ham hock (for those who are ready to remove the bone from cooked meat and then cook it again with the beans, ham bone is another option) 
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar 

For starters, drain the beans and keep them aside. Take up that big saucepan, pour the olive oil, add on the celery, onions, and carrot, and saute it for 5 minutes with salt and pepper. Make sure that the onions turn light brown in colour. Now add into it the – beans, chicken stock, ham, and Parmesan rind (this is the time to add the sugar if you intend to use it). First, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for no less than 2 hours, which can go up to 4 hours. Once in a while, do keep stirring or else the ham fat will stick to the base. If needed – increase the salt content. 

Traditionally, this is served with cornbread. 

ham and beans recipe

# A tip for diabetics – In normal cases, 1/2 cup of brown sugar is added. Though brown sugar does not harm one in a marked manner, the best way is to reduce it to 1 teaspoon (or sugar taste). In no way does it change the flavour of this broth, so rest assured that your soup will just taste the same. 

The French will never let you down 

This Garbure is one lip-smacking dish that goes down the ages as a quick meal. In fact, the saying goes – the more you reheat it, the better it becomes in taste.

The ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of Virgin olive oil 
  • Chopped garlic cloves (4)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion 
  • 4 cups of chicken stock – without salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of herbes de Provence (dried)
  • Smoked ham (8 ounces)
  • Savoy cabbage – thinly sliced – 4 cups 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 4 ounces of Northern beans 
  • Large-sized leek (thinly sliced)
  • Turnip and Red potato – both are cube-shaped and 6 ounces each 
  • 1 carrot – chopped into cube-size 
  • Chopped parsley and thyme – both 2 tablespoons 
  • Both ground black pepper and kosher salt – 1/2 teaspoon each 
  • Cider vinegar (1 1/2 cups)
  • Softened butter (1 tablespoon)
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ham and beans recipe

Ready to ladle? Soak the beans for a maximum of 8 to 10 hours. Make sure that the water you put is just 2-inches above the beans. Too much water can render the beans soggy. 

Time to heat the oil in a pan. Here, one needs to be careful. There is a way to add the vegetables, an order is to be followed to get maximum benefit. As the oil heats in the pan, add the onion and let it turn golden brown (cook for 8/10 minutes). Now add the chopped garlic and leek, and cook for another 2 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring occasionally. 

It is now time for the beans, herbes de Provence, chicken stock, and ham hocks with the bay leaf. Too many? Well, keep stirring on low flame. Bring the brew to a boil and let it simmer for 1 hour. Most important – the beans have to become tender. 

Next, add on the turnip, carrot, and potatoes, and again wait up to 10 minutes. Let these become tender, and then put in the cabbage. The thyme, parsley, black pepper, salt and vinegar combo comes next. 

#This ham and beans recipe just goes perfectly with buttered toast. La soupe est prete! 

Grune Bohnensuppe – The German regular 

Europe is pretty sensitive when it comes to beans. So, make sure you choose them well. This ham and beans recipe variant has white and green beans. All you need to do is – soak the white beans overnight. Leave the green beans as it is. 

Let’s get to the quantity first 

  • 1 cup white beans (soak it in water overnight)
  • 1/2 cup country ham (just in case you want variety – you can also replace it with bacon the next time) 
  • 8 cups of water. Keep another 2 litres of water aside. 
  • 1/2 cup of green beans – cut it into small pieces (keep them bite-size)
  • If you find celery root (the best option) – cut half of it into cube-sized format (1 cup). If the root is unavailable, go for the stalk – 2 of them. Cut them into cube sizes.
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 of a red potato – small one/ keep the skin and then cut it into cubes 
  • Chop 1 onion – try to keep the usual size
  • The leek must be sliced into rings (1/2 of it)
  • Get 1 tablespoon of marjoram – don’t make a fine paste but grind it roughly 
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme – ground in the same way 
  • Butter and Flour – 1 tablespoon each. In case you like your butter more, just make it 2 tablespoons and accordingly increase the flour – to mix it well 
  • 1 carrot – cut it cube-size 
  • Bay leaf (2)
  • Pepper and salt – according to taste 

Well, with all these at tow, you start doing the job. The beans that you had soaked overnight (white ones) now, drain them along with the ham – place them to boil. Add up to 8 cups of water to it and then bring to boil. After that, keep it on medium flame and let it simmer for 1 hour. 

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Next comes the main job. Time to add all the veggies! From the carrots to the celery, onions to parsley, bay leaves and potatoes, marjoram, leeks, thyme, and most important: the green beans – add them all and place to boil. Initially, 2 cups of water are to be put in. In case it feels less, add accordingly. 

ham and beans recipe
Image Credit: Hurst Bean

As the soup is boiling, now it is time for the butter and flour concoction. Melt the butter on low heat and add the flour. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the saucepan. The main point is – flour should turn into light brown colour. This is a 1-hour job. Keep the flame low. 

The 3 sets of cooking that you were up to should be done by now. So, time for a mixed-up brew. 

Add the soup broth to that flour and butter saucepan while you continue to whisk it. After that, you have to add the boiled white bean and ham combo. When you have added both, use the ladle to keep stirring the soup. Accordingly, add the pepper and salt and let it simmer for another 15/17 minutes. Do not go for more as that will burn the soup. 

#Tip to note – Before you serve, just remove the bay leaves. The ham and beans recipe is ready. Die Suppe ist Fertig! 

Why leave Spain out? 

Termed Fabada in Spain, this is a ham and beans recipe broth is one winner! So, why wait? Drop down the menu 

  • Dried Cannelini beans (1 cup)
  • 2 cups of smoked ham hocks 
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika (used the smoked one)
  • 6 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • Diced Roma tomatoes (2 medium sizes)
  • 8 cups of water (keep 1 litre  of water for other purposes) 
  • Bay leaves (2)
  • 1 cup of sliced Spanish chorizo 

Just like in other cases, the cannellini beans must be soaked for 8-10 hours and then dried. Now, in this ham and beans recipe format, you will have to boil the ham alone and then let it simmer. The time to continue the simmering heat is 30-minutes. Its’ the mix-up time – Put in the beans, ham, bay leaves, and paprika with 4 cups of water and allow it to boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the flame and let it simmer for 2 hours (if you want a thicker brew, you can extend it by another half an hour). 

With the other side in control, saute the garlic, tomatoes, and chorizo for 3-5 minutes and add the contents into the brew. Allow it to simmer for another 5 minutes before you place it in the soup bowls!! Disfruta tu sopa. 


That’s quite an exhaustive list! Hopefully, you noted all the points! Otherwise, you can bookmark this page and share the link with interested people. Wish you have a great time cooking the variants. May this ham and beans recipe be a winner for your enthusiasm for cooking! Bon Appetit.