Simple Black Bean Soup with Smoked Ham

A rustic slow-simmered bean soup that is perfect for a chilly fall day. This recipe freezes well, and with a big pot full, there will be plenty to share.


  • 1 Smoked ham shank (try to find one with a good amount of meat and bone marrow)
  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 1 14.5 oz can of Diced Roasted Tomatoes
  • 3 Medium carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 brown onion
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin seed
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Ham shank tends to have a high sodium content. Wait until directly before serving to add any additional salt.
This is a recipe that requires a bit of a time commitment. The slow cooking allows the flavors to come together beautifully, and fills your kitchen with a fragrant, smoky scent. This heart and belly warming meal is oh-so-worth the wait. Allow time for overnight soaking of dried beans, and 4 hours of slow simmer + cooling time on preparation day.
  • Wash beans and soak overnight in a large bowl of water.Combine ham shank, bay leaves, and 8 cups of water in a large dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pan. Bring liquid to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally to prevent boil over, and skimming the surface for any foam.
  • Drain the beans and add to the ham broth along with can of diced tomatoes. Simmer, covered on low heat for an additional 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Stir pot at regular intervals adding water as it evaporates. The cooking time here will vary greatly depending on the heat retention capability of your dutch oven or pot. Heaviest is best as light weight pots will take significantly longer to cook a full pot of beans.
  • When beans are tender, remove the ham shanks, and any bone or meat that may have separated during the simmer time. Set these aside to cool for later use.
  • Discard bay leaves
  • Peel and chop carrots, onions, and celery into a uniform dice. Saute in a small amount of oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Or until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften. Finely mince garlic, and add to pan with all remaining spices just before removing from heat.
  • Add veggie/spices mixture to the pot of beans and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour to allow the veggie flavors to incorporate.
  • Remove 2 cups of bean soup and puree in a food processor before adding back into the pot. This will create a beautiful silky texture, and help the soup to thicken in it’s final minutes of simmer time. If you have an immersion blender, pulse it in the soup a few times instead.
  • Remove meat from reserved ham shank bones, finely chop and add back to soup mixture. Also discarding any gristle or large portions of fat.
  • Cool 10 minutes before serving, and add any additional salt at this stage.
Recipe Notes:
Want the soup without the time commitment? Try subbing the dried beans for canned (drained and rinsed), adding them at the same time as the veggie mixture. Simmer for 45 minutes. This may be a good option for cooks who do not have a dutch oven.