White Beans With Smoked Ham Shank

white bean and ham shank soup
Jonathan Lovekin/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Ratings (16)

If you have leftover ham from a big family feast, a savory way to use it is with a one-pot, easy meal of white beans with smoked ham shank. (If you prefer to buy ham boneless and have a yen for this comforting meal, ask the butcher for a ham bone. He is sure to oblige you.)

Smoked ham shanks make a tasty broth in which to cook the beans in this down-home classic that is Southern right down to its soul. After you use the ham shank to flavor the beans, serve the smoky meat on top. This recipe takes awhile to make, but it rewards you with a deeply satisfying meal. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 smoked ham shank or ham hocks (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound dried cannellini or white kidney beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 sprig of fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

How to Make It

  1. Saute the onions and garlic in the butter until translucent over medium heat in a Dutch oven or any heavy kettle with a lid.  
  2. Add the ham shank, broth, water and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Uncover and add the beans, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. More liquid can be added at any time if the beans soak up all the existing liquid as they cook.
  1. Uncover and taste for salt. The ham may have been salty enough, but if not, add and adjust. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for another 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender and creamy (time will vary depending on the kind of beans you use).
  2. Remove the ham shank to a cutting board, slice off chunks of meat from the bone and serve on the hot beans in a large bowl. Top with fresh parsley.

Serving Suggestions

The traditional, must-have side for beans and ham shank is cornbread. For purists and just about anyone who has been served this dish by their grandmother, you just can't do without it.

The other traditional side served in the South is collard greens, but if that's not your style, substitute Brussels sprouts or green beans tossed in bacon bits for some pork harmony.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 281
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Unsaturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 59 mg
Sodium 1,206 mg
Carbohydrates 28 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Protein 22 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)