White Beans With Smoked Ham Shank

white bean and ham shank soup
Jonathan Lovekin/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
281 Calories
9g Fat
28g Carbs
22g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 281
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 59mg 20%
Sodium 1206mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 22g
Calcium 82mg 6%
*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.)

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. 


  • 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

Steps 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.