Southern Bean Soup

Southern bean soup

Diana Rattray /The Spruce

Prep: 12 hrs
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 14 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
324 Calories
6g Fat
46g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 324
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 678mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Protein 23g
Calcium 121mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Southern-style bean soup recipe contains all kinds of healthy, delicious ingredients, including chopped ham, tomatoes, and several varieties of dried beans, peas, and lentils. The warm and comforting blend of flavors will satisfy even the most finicky eaters. It's also an attractive soup, with many colors from the tomatoes, green chile peppers, and various beans.

Feel free to add some other vegetables to the beans. It's a great way to get your family to eat their veggies. Peeled and diced carrots, diced rutabaga, and corn kernels are excellent choices. Sliced or diced celery and multicolored bell peppers are some other options you might consider. Additional vegetables add nutrients, texture, flavor, and color to the beans. Vegetable broth or chicken stock can add to the flavor as well, or add some ham base to the water. 

Serve this bean soup with crusty French bread, freshly baked biscuits, or cornbread wedges for a satisfying and memorable dinner.


  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup navy beans
  • 1/4 cup great northern beans
  • 1/4 cup pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup lima beans
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup black-eyed peas
  • 1/4 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/4 cup green split peas
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 pound ham
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with green chile peppers

Steps to Make It

  1. Rinse all of the peas, beans, and lentils and pick them over. Discard any malformed or damaged beans, and look for tiny stones.

  2. Transfer the bean mixture to a stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with tap water to a depth of about 2 inches above the beans. Let the beans soak at room temperature overnight. 

  3. Drain the beans and rinse them thoroughly; return them to the pan.

  4. Chop the ham. Peel the onion, cut it in half, and chop it finely. Peel and mince the garlic.

  5. Add 2 quarts of water to the bean mixture along with the ham, onion, garlic, salt, and barley; mix well.

  6. Place the pan over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer.

  7. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.

Recipe Variations

  • This soup is a flavorful and colorful mixture of beans and peas, but feel free to play with the amounts. For instance, you might use all green or all yellow split peas instead of two colors. Or you might want to omit the garbanzo beans and use 1/2 cup of black-eyed peas or another kind of bean.
  • For a vegetarian or vegan soup, omit the ham and use vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor.
  • Omit the barley for a gluten-free bean soup or replace it with whole grain sorghum. If you are very sensitive to gluten, always check the labels. Some bean crops are rotated with other crops, resulting in cross-contamination; they could contain trace amounts of gluten.​
  • Try Janetta's 15-Bean Soup or 9-Bean Soup.