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

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

4.5 / 5 (6 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?   Leave a review »


  • 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!
All images and text ©Rachel Cooks.


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

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  1. I ran out of ham bones in my freezer, so i browned some spicy pork sausage and replaced it for the ham bone. It definitely gave the soup a kick, but my husband loved it.

  2. I made this last night for dinner. It was so good! The only thing I changed was I omitted the water for 2 – 32oz containers of vegetable broth, added 2 small yellow potatoes and 2 bay leaves, because I felt they were small. Plus I added a very hearty amount of ham. I paired it with cornbread. I can’t wait to eat leftovers!

    Rating: 5
  3. Hummm, no ham, do you all think chicken will work?

  4. I make this soup all the time. Add more veggies and make in the crockpot-the longer it cooks slowly..the better it is!

    Rating: 3
  5. I have been making this recipe for years and love it. I just received an Instant Pot for Christmas and was wondering if anyone might know how I would have to change this recipe to make it in my new pressure cooker. Thanks for any suggestions and keep the truly homemade recipes coming:)

    Rating: 5
    • Ooooh I haven’t tried it in my Instant Pot, but now I want to! I looked up some recipes online and saw two different methods for bean soup with dried beans – one 40 minutes high pressure with a 20 minute natural release and the other was 75 minutes on high pressure with a quick release. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

  6. I love this soup and make it all winter long! Sometimes I add diced tomatoes, I always use chicken broth, and today I’m adding browned sweet Italian sausage meat instead of the ham. Thanks so much for sharing this!!

    Rating: 5
  7. I soaked them overnight and some of the beans have turned purplish in color, have the 16 bean variety. Never made bean soup so it this normal?

  8. Good tip to wait until the end to add the ham. I added parsnips in addition to the carrots. Really liked how it came out.

    Rating: 4
  9. I love your receipe for the bean soup yum yum! It was the best!  The weather is so cold here in Va Beach so we go to the best bean soup receipe ever.  Thank you I love all the things you come up with and you have made me a winner in my home! But just don’t tell them Happy New Year Michelle Bishop Va Beach 

    Rating: 5
  10. 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?

  11. 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 fiancé, 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!!

  14. I made this soup with a few differences. I sautéed 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.

  15. > 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

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  19. 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,

  20. 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!

  21. Love bean soup. This is very similar to mine. I leave out the ham bone b/c hubby doesn’t eat meat. :(. I sautée 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.

  22. 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.

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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. I started making this soup with the intent of putting into the crockpot but the ham bone was too big for the crockpot! :) 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 jalapeño 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 :) Thank you for the recipe. Looking forward to enjoying this with some artisan bread. Can’t wait!

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

  28. 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! :)

  29. 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?

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

    • 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 :-)

  30. 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.

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  32. 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.

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

  34. 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!

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


  36. 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 :-)

  37. I don’t eat meat that often, but man…this looks great! Ham bone makes for the best bean soup…nice job! :)

  38. 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!

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

  40. 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.

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

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

  43. 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! :)

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

    • 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 :)

  45. 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!

  46. 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!

  47. 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!! ;) Thanks for sharing!!

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