Rachel Cooks

16 Bean Soup

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather – and includes no strange seasoning packets!

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather - and includes no strange seasoning packets! Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

Repeat after me:

“I, beautiful, kind, smart and valued reader of Rachel Cooks, do solemnly swear, to never, ever, ever throw away a ham bone.”

Unless you’re a vegetarian or you don’t eat pork for religious reasons. But then I’m not really sure what you’re doing with a ham bone in the first place.

The ham bone takes this soup from mediocre to amazingly delicious. Trust me.

Did you know you can freeze ham bones? Now you really have no excuses for throwing it out. Just toss it in a zip-top bag and stick it in your freezer until you’re ready to make this soup.

You might be thinking, “Doesn’t the 16 bean dried bean mix come with a packet of ham flavoring?”

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather - and includes no strange seasoning packets! Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

Doesn’t look like ham to me!

And just for kicks, here is the list of ingredients: Salt, dextrose, maltodextrin, sugar, bacon flavor (which has nine ingredients in and of itself), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ham flavor (which has an additional four ingredients), and silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking aid.

An anti-caking aid? Gross! Now I’m a label reader, but I’m not an obsessive label reader. Yes, I put some things in my body that probably aren’t the best for me and probably aren’t all-natural, but why put in nine ingredient “bacon flavor” when all you need is a ham bone and a couple of spices and herbs? And I’m willing to bet that it probably even tastes better than that little tiny package labeled “ham.”

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather - and includes no strange seasoning packets! Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

16 Bean Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Total Time: 11 hours

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather - and includes no strange seasoning packets!


  • 20 oz. bag of 16 Bean Soup Mix (Any bean mix will do, really.)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 ham bone
  • water
  • 8 oz. diced fully cooked ham (you can use leftover ham if you have it, but our ham bone was pretty well picked dry)


  1. Rinse beans and sort for foreign objects.
  2. Pour beans into a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight (for at least 8 hours). There's a quicker method on the package of beans but I usually go with the overnight technique if I remember.
  3. Drain water from beans and rinse again.
  4. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and throw in onions, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper. I'd go light on the salt because you'll get a lot from the ham.
  5. Saute until softened and onion is becoming translucent.
  6. Add in cumin, parsley, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  7. Add in beans, ham bone, and fill with water until all ingredients are covered by about 1 inch of water. You can always add more later if it gets too thick.
  8. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 1.5 hours
  9. Remove ham bone, add diced ham, and simmer for another half hour. Or so. No need to be exact about things. I think mine was on the stove for about four hours total. I like to add the diced ham in at the end, because I think it tends to get tough if it simmers the whole time.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Remove bay leaf and serve!


16 Bean Soup

Verdict: I love the stuff. Total comfort food. Healthy too!
Husband’s take: He calls it slop, but he likes it. Said, “It is really filling!” That’s a good thing when you’re feeding a man.
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: Easy!

This 16 bean soup is a warm and comforting soup, perfect for cool weather - and includes no strange seasoning packets! Get the easy recipe on RachelCooks.com

When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

68 Responses to “16 Bean Soup”

  1. Alan Cooke — June 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Usually, when I see/hear ‘bean soup’, I’m whisked away to childhood memories of school lunch on friday’s. ‘Veggie’ soup amazingly comprised of all the foods we’d had the previous 4 days. Your soup, however, actually looks and sounds delicious!! =) I’m a bread fanatic, though, so triple the butter on that slice and mail it to me please!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for sharing!!

    • Rachel — June 23rd, 2011 @ 10:20 am

      Thanks Alan! I may have tripled the butter on the bread before actually eating it myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a tomato basil loaf–delicious!

  2. Dana — June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Looks yummy! I’m just like you, while I might eat some things that are not exactly natural, I try to be pretty health conscious… and whatever’s in those packets definitely make me nervous!

  3. Katie @ Healthnut Foodie — June 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Rachel! Thank you for helping to raise the awareness on the toxins being put in our “health food”. Like you, I am not perfect, but I strive to make tomorrow better than today! Cheers to a great blog!

    • Rachel — June 24th, 2011 @ 8:20 am

      Thanks Katie! It is an everyday struggle, isn’t it?

      • Katie @ Healthnut Foodie — June 25th, 2011 @ 8:41 am

        It is. Mostly because so many of us are uneducated. By raising the awareness, we can make a difference!

  4. Krista {Budget Gourmet Mom} — June 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

    That really looks fantastic! I seriously love that bowl you have the soup in, it’s so rustic just like the soup! Yum!

    • Rachel — June 24th, 2011 @ 8:20 am

      Thanks. It’s my bean bowl. Haha not really, but it does seem like every time I make something with beans it ends up in that bowl. It just feels right ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. sheila @ Elements — June 24, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Can I please, please have a bowl!!! Ooooh…it looks so good! And I’m with you…a real ham bone or bacon is WAY better than using that ham flavoring packet (*ugh*) By the way, is that tomato bread with the bean soup? I haven’t made tomato bread in a while. Reminds me I need to make it again soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel — June 24th, 2011 @ 8:21 am

      Yep, tomato basil bread. It was delish (but unfortunately not homemade).

  6. Maris (In Good Taste) — June 24, 2011 at 3:51 am

    The soup looks so hearty and healthy with the beans! That slice of bread at the end there makes this the perfect meal!

  7. brandi — June 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I LOVE a good homemade ham and bean soup. So filling and comforting!

  8. Aunt Amy — June 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Please don’t serve that “ham” for Easter dinner – it would not make a spectacular presentation:) By the way, Joel (not a bean lover) said he might eat it if there were only 16 beans … in the whole pot! Looks delicious to the bean-friendly members of the family.

  9. Brooke @ Veggie Table — June 24, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Obviously, I can’t repeat after you..haha! But that soup looks delicious – minus the ham bone ๐Ÿ™‚ Bacon flavor with anti-caking aid…wth?! Happy Friday!

    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:28 am

      This would be a great vegetarian soup!

  10. Dana@TheSundaySweet — June 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Girl, I love beans, but can’t really eat them. I have major issues with them. But oh man, does that soup look amazing!! I WISH I could eat this!

    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:26 am

      Hmm…maybe you could swap out the beans for lentils or split peas if those sit better with you?

  11. Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles — June 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I don’t eat meat that often, but man…this looks great! Ham bone makes for the best bean soup…nice job! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:30 am

      Thanks Courtney!

  12. Diana @ VeggieNextDoor — June 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I love that BEFORE picture of the beans! I’m thinking as much as I love 3-bean salad, maybe a 16-bean salad would be even better ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:31 am

      Yum, good idea!

  13. Stacy — June 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    This looks really good, I’m saving the recipe to (hopefully remember to) make this winter. Thanks for sharing


    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:33 am

      Yeah, it is kind of a winter recipe, I’ll have to revisit it when it gets cold again.

  14. Rhonda — June 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    This looks delicious!!….I rarely have a ham bone on hand for these types of soups so I will use either ham hocks or a smoked chicken wing works good too!

    • Rachel — June 26th, 2011 @ 10:35 am

      Great ideas! We had bought a honeybaked ham, so we had the bone left from that.

  15. bakerbynature — June 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I would love to have a pot of this to eat all week long!

  16. Elizabeth — October 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I’m making this now….never been a huge bean soup type, but it smells wonderful. Can’t wait to see what the family thinks of it! Thank you for the inspiration to try something new.

    • Rachel — October 2nd, 2011 @ 10:36 am

      Awesome! How did it turn out?

      • Elizabeth — October 3rd, 2011 @ 7:57 am

        The soup was great! Thank you. I’m always looking for something outside our usual. I made cornbread to dip with, even my teens loved it!

  17. Kathryn — April 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Love bean soup. I have always added a couple diced potatoes to bean soup. A dear older man told me to try noodles. Said his Mother always made it that way. Sounds good.

  18. Mare — September 24, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I am a vegetarian, due to the way factory farms produce pork/ cows, anything of this sort, so in turn can someone please send me a recipe for this soup, where i am not contributing to the way creatures are treated?

    • Rachel — September 24th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

      The soup would be great without the ham too! The spices provide good flavor!

    • Karen — November 2nd, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

      Mare, Instead of the ham I added something from Trader Joes called “South African Smoke Seasoning Blend”. It is sold in a spice grinder. It added the smokiness that the ham would add and was delicious! I also diced up some kale and threw that in ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Rachel — November 3rd, 2012 @ 10:27 am

        Great advice, Karen! That sounds fantastic! I’ll have to look for that next time I’m at TJ’s! Love the addition of extra greens too!

  19. Beth — December 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I’ve been looking for a ham bone and bean soup recipe ever since my friend made it for us a few years ago. I just followed your recipe and I’ve got it on the pot now, and it smells SOOO good! I’m gonna make cornbread to go with it. She would actually put a slice of cornbread in the bottom of the bowl and then would pour the soup over it…..yum! Can’t wait to try it, thank you for sharing- it makes a great warm comfort food meal when its snowing outside! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel — December 31st, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

      How did you like it?! Love the cornbread on the bottom of the bowl idea, I need to try that!

      • Beth — December 31st, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

        It was amazing!! We had to add a little more spices for flavoring (you would think a huge ham bone and extra ham would have done the trick!), but it was awesome!! I think the cornbread bottom gives it an even heartier taste. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again, thx for sharing!

        • Rachel — January 1st, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

          Yay! Glad you liked it.

  20. kat — January 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi, just wondering if anyone has tried this in the crock pot….and what adjustments, if any, did you make. Thanks.

    • Rachel Gurk — January 21st, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

      I think that would absolutely work! Make sure to soak the beans, and I’d cook it on high for at least 6 hours or until the beans are nice and soft.

  21. Linda — April 25, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I started making this soup with the intent of putting into the crockpot but the ham bone was too big for the crockpot! ๐Ÿ™‚ Not a bad thing. Switched over to my dutch oven and it’s simmering away. My family likes spicy…anything spicy, so I also sauteed a seeded jalapeรฑo with the onion, celery and carrot. I’ll adjust seasonings to our taste after I take out the ham bone and add the diced ham…might add some garlic since we’re also love garlic ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the recipe. Looking forward to enjoying this with some artisan bread. Can’t wait!

  22. Rachel Horowitz — November 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I’m making this soup right now, although I don’t have a ham bone. I’d purchased a box of Goya Ham Concentrate when I bought the 16 Bean Soup Mix, but I’ve decided NOT to use that crap. I had Turkey Italian Sausage in the freezer, so I threw in turkey sausage towards the tail end of cooking the mirepoix. Now I sort of wish I’d just browned the sausage in the soup pot, and removed it to add back later. C’est la vie. I hope it doesn’t get rubbery.
    I added some roasted cumin, instead of regular cumin, as well as the Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend, that another poster mentioned.

    Right after I added the dried parsley, I realized I had the fresh stuff on hand — may add some later.

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to add some turnips that I have on hand — bought them from a Farmers Market, but haven’t figured out how best to use them.

    • Rachel Gurk — November 6th, 2013 @ 9:05 am

      Sounds wonderful! Hope it turned out great!

  23. Amy — November 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I found this recipe a couple of days ago. I tried it yesterday . . . WOW!!!! I did add one large garlic clove. I had to make a few other minor tweaks but stayed quite close to the recipe. And, for the previous commenter, yes, it works wonderfully in the crock pot. This was a hit with all five people in my family. My only complaint is that there were no leftovers. Thanks!

    • Rachel Gurk — November 27th, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

      So glad you liked it! It is one of my favorites as well.

  24. willYum — December 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    If you have issues with beans, definitely try sprouting them
    overnight. It uses up some Chemicals that make us Gassy and bloated

  25. Alan — December 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I do something similar, but instead of bread, I add an equal amount as the beans of rice.

    Either way, a grain + a legume = a complete set of essential amino acids.

  26. Gina — January 21, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Love bean soup. This is very similar to mine. I leave out the ham bone b/c hubby doesn’t eat meat. :(. I sautรฉe plenty garlic with the onions and add a block of frozen spinach and frozen yuca. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sometimes sour cream just for a slight change.

    • Rachel Gurk — January 21st, 2014 @ 8:18 am

      That sounds terrific!

  27. Marie — April 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

    The first time ever I decided to do something with my ham bone. Followed the recipe to a T and it was fabulous. I have been wanting to make sweet potato biscuits ever since I had them at a restaurant in Kentucky, and thought they would be perfect with this dish. Found a great recipe for those as well. I was right!

    • Rachel Gurk — April 28th, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  28. Brian Clerkin — June 4, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Love your recipes, insight and enthusiasm!
    I was without a ham bone and wondering if some kinda
    prosciutto/bacon mix might work… or might it be too
    “exotic” and salty? I think the more familiar taste would be better!?!
    ‘Best’s to you,

    • Rachel Gurk — June 5th, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

      Thank you! I think it’s worth a try…you can never go wrong with bacon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. kim meller — December 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I give this 5 stars. I made it with the leftover Christmas ham. Cant say i changed much. Used a couple cups of veggie broth only because i wanted to use it up. Took a bit longer to cook, but all in all, fantastic!

    • Rachel Gurk — December 29th, 2014 @ 9:02 am

      So glad you liked it! Thank you for the feedback!

  30. Helen K — January 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I make this soup too and it’s so good. The only think I do in addition to the above directions is take a cup or 2 of the bean/veggies/ham just before you are ready to serve it, throw it in the food processer and return it to the soup. Thickens it up and really adds extra flavor.

    • Rachel Gurk — January 7th, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

      Great tip!

  31. Chemist — January 15, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    > And just for kicks, here is the list of ingredients: Salt, dextrose, maltodextrin, sugar, bacon flavor (which has nine ingredients in and of itself), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ham flavor (which has an additional four ingredients), and silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking aid.

    Immediately stopped reading.

    Chemophobes like you are just as bad as homeopaths and anti-vaxxers.

    Educate yourself.

    – an extremely exasperated chemist

  32. Lynn — January 29, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I made this soup with a few differences. I sautรฉed fresh garlic with the onions in grapeseed oil. I left out the ham bone and instead used portobello mushrooms (had in fridge and needed to be used). If you like mushrooms, you’ll love this. The broth was incredible and got better with each day. My husband and teenage boys loved it too. I excluded the “ham” packet and instead seasoned with 21 seasonings from Trader Joes. BIG HIT. Thanks.

  33. Koreena — August 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I just had to tell you I found your recipe on Pinterest and I have made it no less than a dozen times. I started by using your recipe exactly and have branched out to using a combination of whatever dried beans I have on hand and Italian sausage or bacon when I don’t have ham. I do love this recipe! Thank you for publishing it!!

    • Rachel Gurk — August 17th, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

      Oh I’m so happy! Thank you for taking the time to comment – it means the world to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Keith Shobe — November 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve made 15 beans crock pot soup for decades using the Hurst’s packaged dry beans but I have never used the spice package. I add a 1 lb cooks ham slice and dice it into large chunks. I also add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (faster than diced fresh tomatoes, guess it’ a guy thing) and a small diced red onion.

    I found your page trying to decide if I wanted to start adding cumin to my recipe. My spices are salt, pepper, 1tsp chili powder, 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of each dried spice, basil, marjoram, oregano, and sage. Sometimes I add Garlic.
    2 hours from the end of the slow cook cycle I add at least one of the following;
    2-3 pealed potatoes medium diced
    1/3 to 1/2 cup regular rice brown or white
    1/3 cup barley
    If you use Frenches brand Worcestershire sauce and hold the barley it is celiac friendly.
    I like your idea of adding carrots and celery.

  35. Missy Meh — December 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    I made this recipe today and I must say it was excellent! I didn’t have any bay leaf or a ham bone, so I cut up some smoked ham and added that the later half of the cook time (made it in a crock pot), other than that I followed the recipe and am so amazed at how great it was. Even my fiancรฉ, who doesn’t like beans ate the whole bowl and said it was really yummy (I’m not a bean eating person either, but for the health benefits am trying to add them to my diet). Definitely will be making this recipe again in the near future, thanks a bunch for the wonderful recipe.

    • Rachel Gurk — December 9th, 2015 @ 9:35 am

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  36. Rose — December 31, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I soaked for 24 hours, and 6 hours into this in a crock pot, beans are still hard. What do you think of the trick I read about online to add 1/4 tsp. of baking soda? After how many hours on low in a crockpot would you do the 1/4 teaspoon? Do you have another way to soften the hard beans?

    • Rachel Gurk — January 1st, 2016 @ 2:49 pm

      I’ve never made this recipe in the crockpot and I’m not familiar with the baking soda method. Did it turn out?


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