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Grandma Rua's Ham N' Beans

Ham N Bean Soup
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Soaking Time 12 hrs
Total Time 20 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 7-8 qt Stock Pot or Slow Cooker


  • 1 lb Great Northern Beans, Dry
  • 3 lbs Smoked Pork Hocks or Shanks, or a combo of both Can substitute bone-in ham.
  • 2-3 cups Onion, small dice
  • 8 cups Water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Pick-over beans, then soak in cold water for 12 hours, or overnight.
  • After soaking, remove any floating skins or discolored beans.
  • Place soaked beans, diced onions and smoked pork hocks and/or shanks in a large stock pot or slow cooker.
  • Add 8 cups of water to crock pot, will mostly cover the smoked pork and beans, onions will float initially.
  • If using a stock pot, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 8 hours or until beans are soft and liquid is reduced. if using a crock pot, cook on high for 2 hours and then reduce to low and cook for 8-10 hours until beans are soft and liquid is reduced.
  • Remove hocks or shanks from the soup and allow them to cool until comfortable to handle. Keep soup warm.
  • Remove meat from the bones, discarding excess fat, bones and rind from the meat. Return meat pieces to the soup and allow it to reheat.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. This soup rarely needs salt, as the smoked meat has enough salt, so make sure to taste before adjusting the seasoning.


  1. Smoked pork hocks and shanks can be found near smoked ham in most grocery stores.  I prefer a combination as shanks are meatier, but the hocks have more fat and flavor.  Alternatively, smoked bone-in ham can be substituted.
  2. If using a crock pot, it may take longer to cook the beans until they are fully softened.
  3. I typically use the crock pot on days I have to work, and start the soup while I am getting ready for work, and cook it on high until I leave for the office.  Then I turn it down to low and let it go all day.  Typically 10 hours.  
  4. Salad, cornbread, fresh rolls or a crudite platter are all great accompaniments for this dish.  Alternatively, a grilled cheese is a wonderful pairing. 
  5. A splash of vinegar to the finished soup (about a teaspoon) brings a nice acid and brightness to the soup.
  6. A grating of parmesan compliments the white beans and results in a more Italian style bean dish. 
Keyword beans, ham, ham and bean soup, ham hocks, ham shank, onion, soup