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Great Northern Bean Soup

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This Great Northern Bean Soup is the perfect hearty and filling meal for a chilly winter night. The best part is, this bean soup recipe can be effortlessly made in a Crock Pot or slow cooker!

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Northern bean soup in a green bowl.

There’s nothing quite like a warm and hearty bowl of soup on a cold winter day. This Great Northern Bean Soup is one of our favorite comfort food. It’s simple to make, and the rich and flavorful broth is sure to satisfy!

Plus, this soup is perfect for busy weeknights and you can prepare it in the slow cooker so it practically cooks itself.

Great Northern Bean Soup

This Northern beans crock pot soup is a classic recipe, and a frugal, economical way to put a delicious meal on the table.

Our family has been making this bean soup for decades. The key to the incredible flavor is using a rich, flavorful stock or broth.

Another key to this soup is slow cooking. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will develop.

a green bowl of great northern bean soup with a spoon in it.

Love beans recipes? Then try our Instant Pot White Beans, Tuscan Bean Salad, Slow Cooker Calico Beans, and Instant Pot Great Northern Beans.

Ingredient Notes

  • Dried Great Northern beans

    We use Northern beans in crock pot soup because they’re large and hearty. You can substitute them with any other variety of dried white beans, such as navy or cannellini.
  • Chicken broth – If you don’t have any chicken broth on hand, you can use chicken stock or vegetable broth instead.
  • Smoked ham hock – We like to add a ham bone, diced ham, or a ham hock to the soup for additional flavor. You can certainly leave it out if you’re vegetarian, or prefer not to use pork products.
  • Veggies – We include carrots, celery, and onion. Because you will be dicing them, either regular or baby carrots will work.
ingredients for crockpot bean soup in glass prep bowls.

Equipment Needed

Making Northern Bean Soup in a Crock Pot

  1. Soak the beans overnight, or for at least 4 hours. This makes them cook faster, and also reduces the amount of the enzyme in the bean that causes some people to become gassy.

    The USDA recommends soaking dry beans before cooking.
  2. Rinse the Great Northern beans in clean water, drain them in a colander, then transfer them to your slow cooker..
  1. Add the remaining ingredients. , broth, water, ham hock or ham, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and oregano into the slow cooker.
  1. Cook the soup. Set your slow cooker to High heat and let everything cook for 4-6 hours. Then, switch to Low heat and continue cooking for 2 more hours. 
  1. Remove the bay leaves. Then, if you want a creamier bean soup, use a potato masher or stick blender to mash about half of the beans in the pot.
northern beans in crock pot with vegetables

Great Northern Beans Recipe Variations

  • Use leftover holiday ham in addition to the ham hock, or in place of it.
  • For a vegetarian version of this dried bean soup, simply omit the meat and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.
  • You can also add other vegetables to this soup, such as potatoes, kale, or spinach.
  • For a spicier soup, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or some diced chiles.

Serving Suggestions

This ham and bean soup is delicious on its own, or you can garnish it with parsley and then serve it with some crusty bread for dipping. It’s also great with a side of cornbread or biscuits.

a green bowl with great northern bean soup with a golden spoon and a striped red kitchen towel at the side.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions

This slow cooker ham and bean soup recipe are perfect for meal prep – simply prepare the soup ahead of time, and then reheat it throughout the week. It’s even better the second time around!

To store, let the soup cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to five days.

To freeze, let the soup cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to three months.

When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw the soup overnight in the fridge, then reheat it on the stove over low heat until it’s hot. You may need to add a little water to thin it out, as the soup will thicken as it freezes.

White Bean Soup Recipe FAQ

Can I make this soup in the Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make this great northern bean soup recipe in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cookers. You may check out our Instant Pot Great Northern Beans recipe.

What is the secret to making good soup?

There is no one secret to making good soup – it’s all about finding the right combination of ingredients that you enjoy.

However, we do suggest using fresh ingredients whenever possible, as they will provide the best flavor. You can also add some extra seasonings to taste, such as salt, pepper, or herbs.

Finally, don’t forget to let the soup simmer for a while so that all the flavors have a chance to meld together.

white legumes with ham, stock, and seasonings in a green bowl.
a green bowl with great northern bean soup with a golden spoon and a striped red kitchen towel at the side.
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5 from 3 votes

Great Northern Bean Soup

This Great Northern Bean Soup recipe is the perfect hearty and filling meal for a chilly winter night, and the best part is that it can be effortlessly made in a Crock Pot or slow cooker!
Course Main Course, Entree
Cuisine American
Keyword white beans, slow cooker beans, crock pot beans, beans, dried beans
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 3 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 288kcal


  • Crock Pot or slow cooker
  • colander
  • potato masher optional


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans (pre-soaked, see notes)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 smoked ham hock (or 1 cup of diced ham)
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced thinly or chopped
  • 3 stalks celery sliced or chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


  • 1/2 cup parsley


  • Rinse your presoaked beans in clean water, and drain in a colander.
  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker: great northern beans, broth, water, ham hock or ham, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano.
  • Cook on high heat for 4-6 hours, then on low heat for 2 hours. Remove bay leaves.
  • For a creamier bean soup, mash about 1/2 of the beans with a potato masher. Garnish with parsley, and serve with cornbread or biscuits.


Pre-soak beans: I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar when soaking your beans. 
  • Hot Soak: Hot soaking helps reduce intestinal gas. For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups of hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for up to 4 hours.
  • Quick Soak: For each pound of dry beans, add 10 cups of hot water; heat to boiling and let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for at least one hour.
  • Overnight Soak: For each pound (2 cups) of dry beans, add 10 cups of cold water and let soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
Pre-soak instructions and recommendations are from the USDA website


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 555mg | Potassium: 1011mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4145IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 4mg

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1 thought on “Great Northern Bean Soup”

  1. This looks delicious and easy to cook! I love soups that are full of flavor like this one! I’ll have to try the recipe soon!


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