Great Northern Bean Soup

This post may contain affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.

A simple great northern bean soup made with canned beans and flavored with ham hock, carrots, garlic, celery, and onions.

Want to create a hearty, filling homemade soup but don’t have the time. Then try this great northern bean soup. We used canned beans and flavored them with a broth made from chicken broth, water, and a ham hock.

This blend of ingredients infuses the soup with so much flavor that you can use canned beans instead of dry ones. Normally, a soup like this would take hours. However, by using Kim’s method the recipe is done in about an hour. Pretty good deal, right! So, how about we jump in the kitchen and get this soup on the stove?

An aerial view of the fresh cooked soup.

How to make great northern bean soup with canned beans?

First, chop the carrots, celery, and onions. Afterward, place a Dutch oven or large stock pot over low-medium heat. Next, toss in the oil, onions, carrots, and celery. Let the veggies cook for about 4-minutes.

Carrots, and other ingredients cooking in a stock pot.

Now, add in the garlic and let the mixture cook for another 30-seconds or so. At this point, it’s time to add the ham hock, thyme, sage, broth, water, salt and pepper (optional).

Ham hock and spices added to the stock pot.

Then, bring the broth to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Go ahead and let the broth simmer for about 45-minutes. Once the soup has simmered, you can remove the ham hock if you want or leave it in.

The soup broth starting to simmer in the pot.

All that’s left to do is add in the ham pieces and the canned beans. Just remember to drain and rinse the beans before tossing them into the pot.

Beans and ham added to the soup.

Last, let everything simmer for another 15-minutes. Remove it from the heat and serve hot. Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container, in your fridge for up to 3-days. That’s it, your great northern bean soup is done! Kim and I hope you enjoy it and wish you all the best 🙂

A serving of the bean soup in a bowl.

Recipe Tips and F.A.Q’s:

  • The longer you allow the ham hock broth to simmer, the richer the broth will become. For example, a spiced broth that simmers for 1-hour will have a richer flavor than a broth that simmers for 30-minutes.
  • You can use dried beans, however, once added the soup will need to simmer for 2-4 hours depending on your desired doneness and whether or not the beans have been pre-soaked overnight.
  • Don’t be afraid to add more liquid than directed. Depending on the type of pot you used, you may need to add more broth or water to keep the ham hock submerged in liquid.
  • Due to fact that the soup uses broth and cured ham, it could easily become over-salted. I recommend using low-sodium broth and adding the salt and pepper once the dish is done. Do a taste test (after the final simmer) and add salt and pepper to taste.

How do you thicken ham and bean soup?

There are two ways to thicken ham and bean soup. You can use a flour and melted butter mixture or a cornstarch and water mixture. Simply add either mixture while the soup is hot and allow it to cook until it reaches your desired thickness.

How long should you cook great northern beans?

For dried beans, they will need to cook in water or broth for up to 4 hours. Bring the liquid to a boil, stir in the beans, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let them cook for 2-4 hours until they reach your desired doneness.

For canned beans, we recommend simmering them for at least 15-minutes to, “cook out,” the flavor of the aluminum or tin can.

A close-up of the bean soup in a bowl.
An aerial view of the finished great northern bean soup.

Great Northern Bean Soup

4.5 from 17 votes
Print Pin
Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings


  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, your choice
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • 12 ounces ham, diced ham steak or leftover ham
  • 62 ounces great northern beans, 4 (15 ½ ounce) cans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over low to medium heat. Add the oil, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften then add the garlic. Cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    1 tablespoon cooking oil
    1 large onion
    2 carrots
    2 celery ribs
    2 garlic cloves
  • Next, add the broth, water, ham hock, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook at a simmer for 45 minutes or longer for a richer ham flavor.
    6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    4 cups water
    1 ham hock
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    ½ teaspoon ground sage
    Salt and pepper
  • After 45 minutes, remove the ham hock, and take off any pieces of ham. Return the ham hock to the soup. Add in the ham and beans. Stir to combine and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. (Add additional water or broth as needed while the soup is simmering if the liquid appears to evaporate out.)
    12 ounces ham
    62 ounces great northern beans
  • Serve hot with crackers or crusty bread.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Suggested Equipment


The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of about 1-cup of the great northern bean soup. Actual calories will vary.
For more information and tips, please refer to the post.


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 629kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 1646mg | Potassium: 1555mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3418IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 240mg | Iron: 8mg
Get Our Dip Recipes Ebook!More details here ➡️ FREE EBOOK!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating