Smokey Bean Soup with Ham and Bacon

CATEGORIES: Sara, Soups and Stews

It’s no secret that we love soups around here. And it seems like every year I find one during “soup season” that I just keep making over and over again. Right now, it’s this one. I’ve been wanting to post it for months and with all of the holiday festivities around here it kept getting pushed off. I know ham and bean soup probably doesn’t sound super exciting, but you’ve got to believe me when I tell you how good it is!

This recipe is in honor of my Dad. For as long as I can remember the only soup I’ve ever seen him eat is Bean with Bacon, and he loves it. I’m talking about the condensed kind in the ol’ red and white can. Just the smell of it brings back memories of my childhood and my parents and the house I grew up in. Maybe that’s when last fall on a cold rainy day I found myself craving soup. That soup. My Mom had a horrible accident and I was hundreds of miles away just worrying and stressing and trying to sort through a rush of emotions and memories. Funny how I sat there all curled up and all I wanted was bean with bacon soup- something I hadn’t had in years! Food has a way of conjuring up memories and feelings like nothing else. It’s why every Christmas I still make the same meal that I ate every Christmas morning growing up, and why when I miss Brazil and the people there I make Black Bean Soup, and why when I’m stuffed up and feeling sick I drink hot jello, just like my Mom used to make. Food connects us with our past and has a special way of soothing our souls. Why else do girls all over the world reach out for the Ben and Jerry’s at the first sign of a broken heart?!

Back on that on that cold fall night I sat there awake in bed avoiding stress and unpleasantness by trying to configure a recipe (I tend to cook when I’m under pressure. My college roommates always loved me during finals week!) I wanted the soup to taste smoky, and be creamy, without having lots of calories or artificial smokey ingredients. So it gets the yummy natural flavors from bacon and ham, smoked paprika and just a touch of liquid smoke. And a quick puree instantly turns it from a simmered broth to a rich and creamy meal. Dare I say this may even be Man Soup. You know, the kind that a guy can eat for dinner and not have to have a course of cereal, cold pizza, and chips after because he’s still hungry. Pair it with some warm breadsticks, or a grilled cheese sandwich and you’ve got yourself comfort in a bowl. Hope you love this as much as I do!



  1. That is too funny, because the only canned soup MY dad eats is Campbell’s Bean with Bacon! He always doctors it up with some Tabasco and Worcestershire. Seriously, we probably ate it with toast once a week growing up.

    As far as my growing up foods (or other things, hahahaha…), my dad always made us drink baking soda in water when we had upset stomachs. That was gross. I can taste it just thinking about it. I remember the first time I had chicken cacciatore and I thought it was about the best thing in the world (and I still do!) “Omelets” in a Dutch oven. The potatoes and onions that I posted last year. When my mom was alive, she would make Bratwurst and sauerkraut, but I haven’t had that in forever.

  2. I’m glad my husband is not the only one that finishes off a home cooked meal with a bowl of cereal! Every time he does that I just have to roll my eyes.

    My favorite food memory is probably Thai Chicken Salad, it’s a family favorite recipe, it’s always the first meal made when a sibling gets home from a mission, or is (in my case) back in town visiting after a long absence.

  3. Oh, I love your foodie stories Sara. . . I’ve never cried over food – until now.

    This soup DOES look good. I don’t know if I can get over my addiction to your black bean soup just yet though. Whenever I find myself chopping onions for something – it always turns into black bean soup. (ask Nate) MMmmmmm. . .

  4. I have to agree about the black bean soup- it’s SO yummy! This recipe also looks delish. Ham and bean soup is one of my favorites from my childhood too. Although it wasn’t Campbell’s- it was made from the leftover ham from Christmas and dry beans and took all day to cook. The smell was the best. For some reason we were and added white vinegar to each bowl just before eating, but it was good! I think this is where my love of all things vinegar-y came from (salt and vinegar potato chips are the best!). I will try your version tonight. I’ve been craving some comfort food today and this look perfect!

  5. I am laughing at the cereal after dinner. My husband is always getting a bowl of cereal after the kids are in bed because he is still hungry.

    cucumbers and onions soaked in vinegar always remind me of being at my great grandma’s house. She always had a bowl of this in the fridge.

  6. Sara you are so great! This most was so heart felt. I also love soup and am going to try this soon.

  7. I made this last night and two out of three kids loved it… the other, who’s favorite food is bacon, (he’s 6), looked at me as if I ruined his world when I put bacon in the blender!!! It was a great soup and I have some here with me at work today for lunch.

  8. Looks creamy and comforting and bacon-y – what more could you ask for in a soup?

    It’s funny, eh, about the food comfort thing? My mom used to make me canned cream of chicken soup on buttered toast, and I still want it whenever I’m lonely or stressed!

  9. So funny….my grandma used to make me bean with bacon (Campbells) and serve it with warmed buttered saltines!!! Yummm 🙂

  10. I made this soup for dinner tonight and it was a hit! I wish that I would have doubled the recipe because I think it would have tasted great for lunch tomorrow. I am definitely making this again but I won’t add the salt.

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. I made this for my family two nights ago, they loved it! The baby licked the bowl clean (he did the same thing with the black bean soup as well). I doubled the recipe and am grateful for the leftovers!

  12. We always ate bean and bacon soup with pb sandwiches. Dunked the sandwich in the soup. Mmm.

    I did that tonight when I made this soup!

  13. I am asking before I even hit the store today, but what are great northern beans? I am in Canada, and can't say I've ever noticed something called that!
    Looks great! I can't wait to try it out!

  14. Oh my gosh my mom always gave me hot jello too! I have never heard anyone else who understood that! Thanks for the flashback 🙂

  15. Just made this soup for dinner tonight. LOVED it. Thank you for the recipe. It's definitely a keeper!

  16. I can't thank you enough for sharing this recipe! I too am a bean with bacon girl from way back in my growing up days. And I now have a 3 yr. old daughter and 6 year old son whom I'm passing the tradition on to! (Even though I know it's not very healthy – but hey some things are just worth the risk!) Anyhow, my daughter was diagnosed earlier this year with Celiac Disease (which results in gluten intolerance). She has really been missing the Bean with Bacon soup. My son still eats it on occasion. I'm so thrilled to see if this recipe will work out for her so that she isn't deprived of it. Back in the day, I made up a recipe putting Bean and Bacon soup on tortilla chips and topping them with Tillamook cheddar cheese – Nachos! Even better with a dollop of sour cream on top! Don't knock it 'til ya try it. So easy and soooo satisfying! Now one of my son's favorite recipes too. If this recipe works out my daughter would feel just a little less deprived. Thanks again! There are so many of your recipes that are gluten free or can be adapted as such – a wonderful discovery (this blog) for our family!

  17. I SO want to try this recipe! When, and how much, do you add the liquid smoke? It's mentioned a few times and sounds great, but I needed to ask. Thanks!

  18. Melissa- sorry about that! Sometimes I use the liquid smoke and other times I don't. I think it depends on what type of ham I use because sometimes it tastes perfect without it- so I just added it back in as an optional ingredient. I just add it at the end to taste, usually about 1/2 tsp.

  19. This was so delicious! My husband and I fought over the leftovers the next day. He requested that next time I make it I triple the recipe so he can eat it a few extra times that week. And since he is watching his “figure” this is a recipe that I can use and not feel too bad about it. Thanks!

  20. I love food for that reason. My brother in law always asks my sister for taco salad (WITH black olives) cause thats what his mom made him in california when he was younger. I went to Brazil on a mission trip last year, and guarana soda always takes me back!!! I love food with memories, and this looks delicious!!:)

  21. I made this for dinner tonight. I used a mixture of dry beans, peas and lentils that I cooked in my crockpot all day and I added carrots. So Yummy! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  22. I’ve got this on the stove right now. I’m using a ham the hubby smoked on Christmas that has been sitting in the freezer. Can’t wait to dig in to this tonight!

  23. GirlFRIENDS! Thank you for every recipe. I’m a huge fan. I just made this for the first time and oh my lands it’s YUMMY! I just wanted to say I’m SO grateful you ladies decided to share your recipes with the world. Our family loves them. I feel like we’re friends, though we’ve never met. So if some cute black lady walks up and gives you a hug one day, it’s probably me. I’m not nuts, I’m just nuts about your cooking.

  24. Made this for the family tonight. What a wonderful flavor and so easy to put together. Thank you!

  25. This was one of the best soups I have ever had. WOW!!! I am never buying store bought bean with bacon again. This was so much better. I even used one can of pinto beans because I only had one can of the northern beans. And it was still delicious. Will definitely be making this again!

  26. This is an older recipe that just isn’t formatted for printing. For now, you’ll just have to copy and paste it, but all newer recipes have a print feature embedded in the post.

  27. Wow!
    This is the best bean with bacon and ham soup I have ever made. It was very easy to put together.
    Thank you for this recipe.

  28. I made this soup for dinner last night and it was absolutely amazing!! As I was reading the recipe it kind of sounded like this soup I used to eat at one of my old jobs, I never got the recipe but it was my most favorite soup ever, and as I took a bite of this soup last night it brought me right back to that soup!! Thank you thank you. I randomly found your page through google and I am so glad I did. I love how simple you keep all of your recipes. It’s so easy to follow and you don’t add a lot of extra steps that don’t even need to be there. I love/hate to cook. 99% of the time I get frustrated and mad that I messed something up and it’s ruined. Well last night as we sat down for dinner my husband looked at me and said “wow, did you notice you didn’t get mad or frustrated at all while you were cooking tonight.” it was great, and I gave all the credit to you and your wonderful recipe! Cooking doesn’t always come naturally to people and I am one of those people but unfortunately my husband and I are not loaded so I have to continue to bite the bullet and make all those frustrating meals (my husbands cooking is even worse than mine, I cringe when I see him in the kitchen) but I think now that I’ve found this site I may actually be able to enjoy being in the kitchen! Sorry for such a long post I’m just so genuinely happy to have this new found excitement for cooking! And again thank you!!

  29. Why do you ‘dump’ the extra bacon grease?? You’re throwing away great flavor for other stuff!

  30. I made this soup today and oh my, it is so goooooood!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I enjoy reading your blog!

  31. I’ve made this several times. It is an awesome recipe – best bean soup I’ve ever had! It’s exactly what I was looking for – smokey and flavorful. I used a stick blender instead of a regular blender – just for a few seconds because I like it to remain chunky. I also added carrots and omitted the bacon – too greasy tasting for my tastes. Thanks for sharing this recipe! It’s a keeper!!!

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