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Great Northern Bean Soup

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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!

a green bowl with great northern bean soup and red kitchen towel, salt and pepper cellar, and golden spoon at the back.
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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.

Classic Soup Made Simple

This Great Northern Bean Soup recipe is a classic soup that’s a frugal, economical way to get dinner on the table.

It’s my husband’s favorite bean soup recipe, and his family has been making this bean soup for decades.

He shared their recipe with me, and I’ve made a few tweaks to suit our taste. I like to add a ham bone or ham hock to the soup for added flavor, but you can certainly leave it out if you’re vegetarian or prefer not to use pork products.

The key to this soup is in the broth. It’s rich, flavorful, and packed with nutrients.

We love to use Great Northern beans in this slow cooker or Crock Pot soup because they’re large and hearty, but you can also use other types of beans, such as navy beans or cannellini beans.

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

We love serving this soup with some crusty bread for dipping, but it’s also great on its own.

a green bowl with great northern bean soup and a golden spoon on it.

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

Ingredients for Great Northern Bean Soup Recipe

  • Dried Great Northern beans – pre-soaked
  • Chicken broth
  • Water
  • Smoked ham hock – or diced ham
  • Carrots – peeled and sliced thinly or chopped
  • Celery – sliced or chopped
  • Chopped large onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried oregano
  • Optional: Parsley
ingredients for making great northern bean soup which consists of pre soaked great norther beans, chicken broth, smoked ham hock, chopped onions, diced carrots, diced celery, dried oregano, minced garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Equipment Needed

How to make Great Northern Bean Soup

Rinse the beans. Rinse the great northern beans in clean water, then drain them in a colander.

Add all the ingredients. Put great northern beans, broth, water, ham hock or ham, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and oregano into the slow cooker.

Cook the beans. Cook on high heat for 4-6 hours, then on low heat for 2 hours. 

Remove bay leaves then if you want a creamier bean soup, mash about half of the beans with a potato masher.

cooking great northern bean soup inside a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Great Northern Beans Recipe Variations

  • Use your leftover ham from Christmas and Easter in addition to the ham hock or in place of it for this soup.
  • If you don’t have a ham bone or ham hock, you can use diced ham instead.
  • 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 jalapeños.

How to Serve Great Northern Bean Soup

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.

These northern beans in a Crock Pot are also perfect served with our recipes like:

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you soak Great Northern beans?

Soaking the beans helps to remove some of the indigestible sugars that can cause gas. It also reduces cooking time. And as per USDA recommendations, you should soak all dry beans first.

Should you discard bean soaking water?

Yes, you should discard the bean soaking water and rinse the beans before cooking because they can contain indigestible sugars that can cause gas.

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.

horizontal photo of a green bowl with great northern bean soup and a golden spoon on it.

Get the Full Great Northern Bean Soup in Slow Cooker Here

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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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 Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beans, crockpot, white beans, slow cooker beans, crock pot beans, Main Course, dried beans, slow cooker
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 3 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 288kcal

Equipment

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

Ingredients

  • 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

optional

  • 1/2 cup parsley

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

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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