Smokey Bean Soup with Ham and Bacon

I grew up on canned bean with bacon soup because it was my Dad’s favorite. In fact, I just opened his pantry this week and there was a can, front and center. This homemade version has all of the familiar elements but elevated with fresh ingredients. It’s a rich and hearty soup with a base of white beans and tons of flavor from chopped ham, onions and garlic, and bacon. I like to add smoked paprika and a touch of liquid smoke at the very end for that perfect smoky flavor. This bean soup is perfect with some crunchy homemade croutons on top and we love serving it with hearty bread, or a grilled cheese for dipping.

Smokey Bean and Bacon Soup in a bowl with croutons

Ingredient and Equipment Notes

  • Blender – Part of the magic of this soup is watching it transform from brothy to rich and creamy by blending part of it until smooth. I use my blender, and I feel I get a smoother and more desirable consistency using a blender as opposed to any other method, but if you’d rather, you could use an immersion blender.
  • Beans – Use Great Northern or Cannellini beans. Most canned white beans will work great, those are my favorites.
  • Bacon and Ham – These help give this soup a hint of smokiness. Since different brands vary in how salty they are, I have kept the additional salt low. Make sure to taste your soup before serving and add additional salt as needed.
  • Smoked Paprika – You can find smoked paprika in the spice aisle of the grocery store. Trader Joes regularly carries it. It’s quite different than using normal paprika, the smoked version has an amazing smoky flavor to it and also adds some beautiful color.
  • Liquid Smoke – I included this as an optional ingredient, in case you may not have it on hand, but when I make this soup I always add the liquid smoke at the end. If you’ve never used this before, you find it in small bottles usually near the bbq sauces (often on the top shelf). It is literally what it sounds like- actual smoke, but in liquid form, and it’s a great way to add flavor to dishes.


  1. First you’ll cook some bacon. I find the easiest way to do this step is to cut a package of bacon in half and then slice it right up into small pieces and break them apart in your soup pot. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels, but keep about a tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the pot. Tip: pour that extra bacon fat into one of your empty bean cans for easy disposal.
  1. Add some diced onion and garlic to the pan with the reserved bacon drippings and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add some diced ham, beans, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to pan and stir to combine. Then add some chicken broth and diced potatoes. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until potatoes are tender.
  1. Remove from heat and stir in bacon and liquid smoke to taste if you choose to use it. Take about half the soup and place in the blender (leave the plug in the lid off to let steam escape and cover with a paper towel to avoid splashes while you blend). Blend until completely smooth and then add back into the soup.
  1. Add additional salt and pepper  to taste. The need for salt really depends on the ham and bacon you use so I kept it low on purpose, make sure you add it in to taste best! Ladle into bowls and top with extra bacon if desired. I also love it with some crunchy croutons on top!

Serving Suggestions

You definitely can’t go wrong eating this soup with a good grilled cheese sandwich! It’s great with Easy Homemade Breadsticks, garlic bread made with Homemade Garlic Bread Seasoning or these Quick & Easy Garlic-Parmesan Rolls.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I make this ahead of time? Of course! Allow the finished soup to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat small portions in the microwave, or reheat the whole batch on the stovetop.
  • Can I freeze this black bean soup? Yes! Soup in general makes a great freezer meal and this one is no different. For easy reheating, freeze individual soup pucks in silicone muffin trays or my favorite Souper Cubes, then store in a zip top bag in a freezer. Pull out as many as you need for a serving and heat in the microwave or on the stove top.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, then come back and give this recipe a rating!

Bowl of bean soup with croutons

Smokey Bean Soup with Ham and Bacon

This hearty bean soup is comfort in a bowl! Smokey and filling, it's perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings8 cups


  • 8 oz bacon feel free cook extra if you'd like some to sprinkle on top as a garnish
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces diced smoked Ham about 2 C
  • 2-3 red potatoes about 16oz diced into bite-sized pieces *OR 1 additional can beans
  • 2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini Beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon liquid smoke optional


  • Slice bacon into bite-size pieces (tip: the colder it is, the easier to slice.) Cook in a large stock pot until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Reserve about 1-2 tablespoons bacon drippings in pan and discard the rest (tip: stuff a paper towel into one of those empty bean cans and carefully ladle grease on top).
  • Add diced onion and garlic to pan with reserved bacon drippings and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until onion starts to soften.
  • Add diced ham, potatoes, beans, smoked paprika, salt and pepper broth to pan and stir to combine.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Remove from heat.  Carefully transfer about 3-4 cups of the soup to a blender  (leave the plug in the lid off to let steam escape and cover with a paper towel to avoid splashes while you blend). Blend until completely smooth. You could also use an immersion blender in place of a blender but I do prefer the blender as it will get a better puree!)
  • Add blended soup back to pot and stir to combine. Add liquid smoke and cooked bacon to soup and stir. Add additional salt and pepper  to taste. The need for salt really depends on the ham and bacon you use so I kept it low on purpose. Ladle into bowls and top with extra bacon if desired and croutons.  


I wrote this recipe using potatoes, but once when I was in a pinch without any, I used an extra can of beans instead, and it worked just as well!  Feel free to go either route. With the potatoes, you'll get the extra element of a diced potato in the soup, which adds some textural interest and heartiness, but either options produces a great finished soup. 
Keyword: beans, soup
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. How do I print out recipes with out the photo’s? I am interested in the Smokey Bean Soup with bacon.

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!:)

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

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

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. I love this recipe and will be trying to soon! THe liquid smoke in this soup sounds so good!

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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. . .

  26. 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.

  27. 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.