Delicious in-season vegetable ham bone soup recipe is a super easy way to create a healthy and hearty meal using leftover ham, a ham bone, and vegetables you have on hand.
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Many people I know think of ham as a holiday meat, just grabbing a whole or spiral ham for Christmas or Easter. The rest of the year it seems to be reserved for lunch meat.
But ham is one of my favorite meats and it can be pretty frugal if you buy a couple when they're on sale and freeze them for later. I'll bake one for dinner and slice off the rest for lunches, frittatas, and casseroles.
What's left after that is a bone with a good amount of meat that makes great broth and is the basis for another of my favorites, a delicious vegetable ham bone soup.
It's so easy to throw this soup together in a pot on the stove, a Crockpot or an Instant Pot. Not only is the cooking method versatile, the soup is, too, using whatever in-season vegetables you have.
If you're not ready to make ham bone soup right away, the bone can be thrown in the freezer with all the meat pieces attached and pulled out when you are ready for a warm and comforting bowl of tasty soup.
Vegetable Ham Bone Soup Recipe
Making soup with a ham bone is pretty simple and to be the most versatile, I use two steps:
- make a ham bone broth
- add vegetables, beans, etc. to make the soup
To make the broth, put the ham bone in a pot, cover the bone with water and add a chopped onion. You can use a slow cooker, and Instant Pot or a stockpot on the stove.
When the meat is starting to fall off the bone (or you get home from work, or the timer dings...whatever), remove it from the liquid (now a wonderful ham broth) and set it on a cutting board to cool. Once you can touch it without burning your hands off, pull the meat off, cut up any big pieces and remove any remaining fat before adding the meat back to the broth in the pot.
Now from this base of broth, onion, and ham you can create lots different soups - split-pea soup, ham and potato chowder, ham and bean soup, or my favorite, a simple harvest vegetable soup using in-season vegetables and whatever else I may have in the fridge.
This time I included:
- chopped cabbage
- small amount of chopped kale
- diced sweet red pepper
- diced jalapeño pepper
- fresh corn cut from the cob (frozen of course is great, too)
- defrosted container of pre-cooked, frozen garbanzo beans
And if you are making this around the holidays, you can even throw in holiday leftovers like mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables! It's a super way to use up what's in the fridge as well as the ham bone.
Add your chosen ingredients to the broth and ham in the pot plus seasonings of garlic, pepper, thyme and basil. Cook until everything's tender - 15 minutes for an Instant Pot, 1 hour on the stove top, or 2-4 hours with a slow cooker, your choice!
This obviously makes a ton of soup which is okay with me since it's just as good warmed up for lunches. It freezes well, too, and freezing some in small portions is super convenient for quick meals on busy days.
It's time to stock up on ham bones, right? (Oh, and once you tell people you like to make soup with bones, they'll be offering them to you at every holiday so don't be shy!)
Harvest Vegetable Ham Bone Soup
- 1 or 2 ham bones, with some meat attached
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 to 4 cups chopped vegetables: peppers carrots, cabbage, kale, spinach, tomatoes, corn, peas, etc.
- 1 to 2 cups cooked beans* white, red, garbanzo beans, etc.
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- salt to taste**
To Make Ham Bone Broth:
- Add ham bone and chopped onion to the bowl of a Crockpot, Instant Pot liner, or stove-top stockpot (it's okay of the ham bone is frozen). Cover with water (in an Instant Pot don't fill more than 3/4 full, though - it's okay if some of the bone/meat is not covered).
- For Crockpot: cook for 4-5 hours on Low (2-3 High).
- For Stove Top: cook on the stove top for 1-2 hours.
- For Instant Pot: Press manual (high pressure) and adjust cook time to 30 minutes. The pressure cooker will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure - (cooking recipes with more liquid, the longer it typically takes to come to pressure). When cooking is done, let the cooker naturally release pressure for 15 minutes. Then lay a towel over the knob and turn the seal to quick release the remaining pressure.
To Make Soup:
- Use a slotted spoon to remove all the bone pieces and large pieces of meat to a cutting board. Chop all the meat, removing from bone if needed, and return to the pot.
- Add the remaining ingredients and choose cooking method:
- Crockpot: Cook for another 3-4 hours on Low (or 2 hours on High).
- Stove Top: Bring to boil, then simmer for about 1 hour until the vegetables are tender.***
- For Instant Pot: Lock the lid to seal. Choose "Manual" for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, hit Cancel/Keep Warm and let release naturally for 10 minutes. Lay a cloth over the valve and quick release until all the pressure is out.
- Season with salt and serve warm with a crusty bread.
Other hearty soups you may like:
The Best Sausage and Lentil Stew (with a secret seasoning)
Cauliflower Cheese Soup (ready in 30 minutes)
Note: this recipe was originally published in February of 2010 and has been updated with all new photos, formatting, and printable recipe. Enjoy!