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16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale

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This hearty and delicious, 16 bean soup with ham is budget friendly and loaded vegetables and fiber.

16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale

16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale

Winter has finally arrived, and there’s nothing quite like a pot of soup simmering all day to warm you up. This a wonderful 16-bean soup to make any time you have leftover ham from the Holidays. More recipes I love making any time I have leftover ham are this hearty, Leftover Ham Bone Soup with Potatoes and Cabbage, and the popular Crustless Ham and Cheese Quiche.

bean soup

This is the kind of soup I like to cook on a Sunday, when I am home with nowhere to go. This makes a lot of soup, perfect for meal prep. One of my favorite meal prep strategies is to cook a meal big enough for two nights or more, so you can have dinner and freeze the rest for the future. This will last in the freezer up to 3 months in an airtight container. You can refrigerate this up to 4 days.


(see recipe card below for full recipe)

  • Beans: one pound bag of 16-bean soup mix, discard flavor packet if it comes with it. This is usually sold in a bag by brands like Goya with a mix of large lima beans, baby lima beans, great northern beans, small white beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, pink beans, pinto beans, small red beans, green split peas, and yellow split peas.
  • Vegetables: Kale, onions, carrots, green or red pepper, celery, green onions and garlic.
  • Herbs: Cilantro, rosemary and thyme. If you wish you can also add a bay leaf or two.
  • Meat: Diced smoked ham steak, or you can use bacon, sausage, or a smoked turkey leg.
  • Additional seasoning: salt, black pepper, cumin and tomato sauce.

How To Make Bean Soup

  1. Rinse and soak beans overnight.
  2. Discard the soaked water the next day and place in a pot with 12 cups of water, cook uncovered 1 hour on medium-high heat.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add oil and cook ham and cook until browned, 2 minutes.
  4. Add onions, carrot, garlic, green pepper, celery, green onions, cilantro, tomato sauce, cumin, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes, until soft.
  5. Add to the beans along with the rosemary and thyme.
  6. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  7. Uncover the pot, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until thick and the beans are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  8. Add the kale and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Notes and Variations

  • If your bean mix comes with a seasoning packet you’ll want to discard it.
  • Also, it’s best to soak the beans overnight, then discard the water the next day before cooking.
  • You can also make this in the pressure cooker, to speed it up, just use a little less water and cook it in half the time, about 1 hour on high pressure.
  • Swap the ham for sausage, a ham hock or smoked turkey leg.


Can you freeze bean soup?

Yes, you can freeze bean soup. Cool it, use freezer-safe containers, portion it, leave headspace, label, freeze promptly, thaw and reheat properly. Some soups with dairy may have texture changes, but bean soups freeze well.

How To Thicken Bean Soup

To thicken bean soup, here are a few methods you can try:

  1. Mash some beans: Take a ladleful of cooked beans from the soup and mash them using a fork or a blender. Return the mashed beans to the soup and stir well. The mashed beans will release starch, helping to thicken the soup.
  2. Blend a portion of the soup: Use an immersion blender or transfer a portion of the soup to a regular blender. Blend until smooth, and then return the blended soup to the pot. The blended beans will help thicken the soup.
  3. Simmer and reduce: Allow the soup to simmer uncovered for a longer period, which will help evaporate excess liquid and naturally thicken the soup. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
soak beans overnight
Soak beans overnight.

ingredients for bean soup

More Bean Soup Recipes you might like:

16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale

4.92 from 12 votes
Made with a 16 bean soup mix (if yours comes with a flavor packet you'll want to discard it) plus smoked ham, vegetables, fresh herbs and kale.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 10 servings
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup


  • 16 oz bag of 16 bean soup mix, discard flavor packet if it comes with it
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 oz low sodium smoked ham steak, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small green pepper, diced (3/4 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped


  • Rinse and soak beans overnight.
  • Discard the soaked water the next day and place in a pot with 12 cups of water, cook uncovered 1 hour on medium-high heat.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add oil and cook ham and cook until browned, 2 minutes.
  • Add onions, carrot, garlic, green pepper, celery, green onions, cilantro, tomato sauce, cumin, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes, until soft.
  • Add to the beans along with the rosemary and thyme.
  • Lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Uncover the pot, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until thick and the beans are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the kale and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Last Step:

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Serving: 1 1/4 cup, Calories: 155 kcal, Carbohydrates: 36 g, Protein: 13.5 g, Fat: 2 g, Saturated Fat: 0.5 g, Cholesterol: 4 mg, Sodium: 647 mg, Fiber: 18.5 g, Sugar: 3.5 g


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126 comments on “16 Bean Soup with Ham and Kale”

  1. The combination of veggies and spices just filled the kitchen with warm aroma that even my husband came running, and he doesn’t love soups. Brilliant! 😋❤️

  2. Excellent recipe!  I didn’t have kale so used spinach instead. Wonderful way to use up leftover ham!

  3. I successfully made this soup in the instant pot without soaking beans first. I put all ingredients in except kale and cut the amount of water to 8 cups. Set for 30 minutes and natural release for 20 minutes. Then stirred in the kale and put the lid back on and let it sit for 15 minutes. Perfect!

    1. Avatar photo
      Sarah Meagher

      Thank you for this; I knew I had seen a 16-bean soup recipe on the website and only just found it, I wanted to eat it today for lunch, and now I can.

  4. I made this soup last night. Absolutely delicious! I love beans in all dishes, love soups and for some strange reason never tried the 16 beans soup. Now browsing your site and already a fan. Thank you Gina 🙂

  5. This was delicious! Unfortunately I didn’t check the ingredients of my sixteen bean soup mix carefully until after using it, and the brand I had on hand (Goya) included barley, so was not GF, as I’d assumed. I know there are GF bean mixes available, so I’ll take a closer look in the future. Might be worth adding a note to the recipe advising people to check, though…it didn’t even occur to me until too late!


    Hi! I see there are 10 servings but how many cups is each serving?

    Thank you,

    Lori Patel

    1. 1 and 1/4 cup per serving. You can find this under the nutritional values at the bottom of the recipe card!

  7. I made this today and it was delicious! I am not sure why the Green SP is 5 though? I ran it through the recipe builder with the ingredients I used and it was only 1.

  8. Gina, The soup is delicious!  I see that it is 10 servings, but you usually mention the serving size in the nutrition info, and I don’t see it.  Am I missing it?  If not, could you let me know what it is?  Thanks. 

  9. Just….WOW!  My husband said this was the best soup I’ve ever made and he loves the leftovers just as much. Best Skinnytaste recipe ever!!

  10. I have to be honest Gina – I was a bit unsure about this recipe – but it’s absolutely delicious. You really never steer us wrong 😉 My only addition was adding beef stock. Another great recipe – thanks Gina.

  11. This was super good! A bit of chopping, but was worth it and will freeze quite a bit of it. I did use smoked turkey sausage halved lengthwise then sliced, for those that aren’t “pig” fans, lol. Thanks for the great recipe!

  12. This is the best bean soup ever. I had a gift package of soup beans with the flavor pack included, which is always bland IMHO. So I looked online and found this recipe. Quick soaked the beans, then drained and cooked for an hour in chicken broth. Used bacon ends instead of ham, because that’s what I had. But wow, what a great flavor and much more interesting spice/herb combination. Thanks for posting this!

  13. Hi – does anyone know how many cups a 16 oz bag of bean soup mix would be? I can’t find an online conversion. All the sites are showing canned. 🙁

  14. Pingback: Multi-Bean Soup – BRUT IMPERIAL ANTARCTICA

  15. This was great! Thank you for the recipe. I added extra ham, and left out an ingredient or two that I didn’t have, but that’s pretty much all I changed. Soup is so versatile! Adding this to our regular rotation.

  16. How would you make this in the Instant Pot? I am a new user, so I am unsure how to convert recipe settings and time.

  17. This soup is absolutely amazing. Only change I made was that I added a diced jalapeño for a little kick. Delicious! Thank you Gina for another awesome recipe!

  18. Avatar photo
    Brandi Cooper

    I want to make this today but I didn’t soak the beans… Could I just did it fron this morning? Or simmer it longer? Or should I wait til tomorrow to make it?

    1. My bean mix bag had a recipe for “prepping” the beans.  I used 8 cups of water, brought it quickly to a boil, then covered and removed from heat for 2 hours.  Then I drained them, added a little fresh water and left them sit several hours till we were ready to make the soup.

  19. Just made it, it is incredible! Thank you so much for the great recipe.

    Noticed many of your soups say that you can freeze the leftover, however, this one does not indicate this. Does this it freeze well as well, or is it better not to due to the kale?

  20. Ahh! I threw the water from cooking the beans out. Perhaps clarifying in the directions to keep the water from the beans might help. I just put some chicken broth and water in, hopefully it still tastes good.

  21. I made this soup, adding a few of my own seasonings to the mix…it turned out great. I was afraid the cilantro would over power the flavors… yest everything is so good….I am still testing..giggle. I need to stop its for a party ( it may not make it…hint hint)

    Thanks for the help!!

  22. The great thing about soups of this type is that it’s hard to get it wrong. If you don’t have one thing, try a similar ingredient. If you don’t eat ham, use smoked turkey or even just add a little liquid smoke to the beans (and I mean LITTLE, unless you really like smoke that much).

    About the only things that could destroy this would be using too high a heat or too little water and burning the soup.

    So eat more soup this winter. Get some nice crusty bread and butter to go with it and a salad on the side to balance the meal.

  23. Am I supposed to chop up the rosemary and thyme or add the whole sprigs to the pot and take them out when soup is done cooking?

  24. The first time I made this dish, I burned it… our burners tend to cook hotter than average, so I really should’ve been ready for that. We still ate it though, the burned flavor didn’t ruin the dish completely… would not recommend burning it though, just to be super clear. This time around, we were really careful about watching the pot the whole time and it came out great. Perfect lunch with a piece of tasty toast. 

      1. Mine also burned. After it burned, at the time when you turn up the heat before adding the kale, I added 4 cups of instant hot water and was careful to not scrape the bottom of the pot. The soup was fine. After cooling and moving the leftover soup to a container, I scraped the bottom of the pot with a plastic knife. No harm done, just very surprised that soup could burn.

  25. When you make this in the crockpot, you don't have to soak the beans overnight. I usually cook beans in the crockpot on high for 4 hours, no soaking required.

  26. For pressure cooker you said less water which means half or? Hope you can answer me as I am going to make this tonight. Thanks

  27. Ah-mazing! The smells alone could keep me well-fed for days! I added a hambone to mine so the beans soaked up that goodness too. Thank you for yet another perfect meal (and may leftovers).

  28. how would you cook it in the crock pot? jus throw all he ingredients in there and cook on low for 10 hours? or do u need to cook the vegetables first then put them in the crock?

    1. It’s not just this post!! If I was Gina I would GO OFF on some of these morons.
      ” what do you mean by tomato sauce? They don’t sell it in my store??”
      Really?? Really?? NEVER heard of tomato sauce???!!

      And the people that ask if you drain liquid off soup!! It WONT BE SOUP YOU IDIOT!!
      “Can you use this? Can you use that?? YOU CAN USE WHATEVER YOU WANT!!

      And they CONSTANTLY argue about the points!! Even though she tells them OVER AND OVER how to calculate points. I would go nuts.

  29. Hi Gina,

    This was AMAZING! I used spinach instead of kale, and omitted the tomatoes. It was hearty, filling, and didn't weigh me down. PERFECT winter soup. Thank you for sharing.

  30. My wife and I tried this just the other night and it was AWESOME!! But I can't get the same WW SmartPoints you have. I calculate only 4 SP using the nutritional values you posted, but you're listing 5 SP? Just trying to get the math right. You don't happen to have the grams of saturated fat in this recipe?

  31. Thank you for this recipe!! My husband and I like a little extra kick, so I added a few chopped jalapeños and it was amazing with some WW friendly cornbread muffins!

  32. Gina, this soup is a WINNER! My husband says, 'This is the champion winter soup of all time." That's high praise from someone who regularly enjoys a bowl of soup. Thanks for sharing!

  33. What do you mean by 'tomato sauce'? Ketchup? Canned Tomatoes? We don't have tomato sauce sold in supermarkets here.

    1. Your supermarket should have canned 'tomato sauce' with the rest of the canned tomatoes. I have noticed that the selection of canned tomato sauce is seems to be much less than other types of canned tomatoes. They are usually randomly mixed in. I am fairly certain Hunt's has a tomato sauce so look for it within their section.

      If you can't find it, you could probably use crushed tomatoes since they are less chunky. You will want to avoid ketchup since it has additional ingredients.

  34. Great looking recipe.
    Will be leaving the meat out
    as there is enough protein
    in the beans for hubby, as he's
    Most dried seasonings indicate
    to use towards the end of cooking.
    Yummie! Looking good for my
    crockpot in the morning. 🙂
    Thank you.

  35. This soup looks unreal! I need to start eating more greens, so happy to find a hearty healthy looking soup for winter!

  36. I made this tonight and it was delicious. The house smells so good. I had a ham bone from Christmas that I froze and I threw it in with the water and the beans and left it in until I put the kale in. Soo good will make again for sure!

  37. I think I will be giving this one a try but maybe for an extra kick of flavour in the broth substituting a smoked turkey leg (still fairly skinny) or a smoked pork hock (much less skinny) for the ham. With that modification I might go with collards instead of kale and their longer cook time, 'cause honestly I am not convinced kale is edible 🙂

  38. How can one tell if the beans are old in the store. Once I tried to cook navy beans and they never softened. Ended up using canned.
    And do you think I could use a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes?

    1. The trick to cooking dried beans is to cook BEFORE adding salt. Salt slows the cooking process, notice how she has you cooking for an hour before adding anything else.

    2. If you added tomatoes to the soup they can stop the cooking of the dried bean, it is some kind of chemical reaction.

  39. Ugh, I'm drooling at work right now! This looks fantastic! I've been craving soup for my post lunch runs in *freezing* Charleston. 🙂

  40. Do I put the rosemary and thyme in whole.and take it out at the end like you do with a bay leaf or do I chop it up and leave in?

  41. Avatar photo
    Sarah Mann Willcox

    I think maybe I soaked my beans too much – a good chunk of them turned into paste. Made the soup really, really (no, really) thick. Also, it's delicious. 🙂

    1. Avatar photo
      Skinnytaste Gina

      If you don't soak it, they will take to simmer. There is a quick soak method… you cover the beans with just enough water and bring it to a boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let it stand 1 hour, then drain.

    1. Soaking them helps remove the indigestible sugars that cause gas, and shortens the cooking time, preserving nutrients. Also gets them cleaner!

  42. Avatar photo
    Ernie Razzano, MFP

    Just a little confused. Am I to add the ingredients to the beans AFTER the beans have cooked for an hour, then cook for additional hour? Thanks!

    1. I'm making this in my Instant Pot right now. The Instant Pot recipe book offers a table in the back with recommended cooking times. Since this has 16 different types of beans, I've decided to go with the longest recommended cooking time which is 20 – 25 minutes. That being said, I think I may have use too much water (I used 10 instead of 12) and I set the pot for 30 minutes & plan on cooling naturally… Praying this turns out!

  43. The SmartPoints value for this recipe is 4. I have found that quite a few recipes incorrectly state the SP value so you are well advised to check each recipe.

    1. Avatar photo
      Skinnytaste Gina

      Did you input this in recipe builder? The only accurate way to get points is via Weight Watchers recipe builder which is how I calculate all the recipes.

  44. I cannot find low sodium ham steak for the life of me. I live upstate, and we have Wegmans. If Wegmans doesn't have it, I am stumped!

  45. Avatar photo
    Madison Kreps

    FYI: I continue to rinse the beans at least 3 times after I discard the initial water. Dramatically reduces flatulence.

  46. Avatar photo
    Michael Bloem

    Why is the pin only saving the photo and not a link to the recipe? So frustrating to try and save recipes to Pinterest!

    1. I've noticed the same thing for the past week or so of recipes. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can get around this by going to where you add a bookmark, and then selecting the Pinterest icon instead.

  47. Gina,
    When you post older recipes in your weekly meal planner, can you check for recent questions/comments? Some of us posted recent questions to your entry for Monday (soup with egg) but I am not sure you realize that there might be new questions posted when you use one of you older recipes in your weekly meal plan. Thanks a lot!

  48. Avatar photo
    Timiza Johnson

    For the crockpot, did you reduce the water amount? I've heard for crockpot, you don't need as much water as if you were cooking from stovetop.

    1. Avatar photo
      Miss Fabulous

      How did you do it in the crockpot? Did you soak the beans, use the same amount of water and cook the kale for the whole process? Also how long did you cook it? Sorry, I have no idea what an instapot is but the recipe looks so yummy!

    1. Try looking for it near the dried split peas and lentils. My local store sells one under their brand with only 14 kinds of beans. Goya makes one that is 16 beans – 16 bean soup mix. Walmart carries it:

    1. Avatar photo
      Montana Woman

      Crock Pot works great. It takes 10 hours on low, or you can do 6 hours on low and then crank it up to high for 2 hours if you are short on time (that's what I did).

    1. No. You discard the water used for soaking. And then you add 12 cups fresh water to the soaked beans as per her instructions.
      "Rinse and soak beans overnight. Discard the soaked water the next day and place in a pot with 12 cups of water, cook uncovered 1 hour on medium-high heat."

    2. Avatar photo
      Skinnytaste Gina

      Discard the water the beans have soaked overnight in, then put in pot and add 12 cups of water.

    3. We all get to discard the soaking water, the question was once the beans are cooked, you don't drain them, you use the beans and the water you cooked them in to keep making the soup? It's a pretty simple question, cooking water not soaking water.

    4. Avatar photo
      Skinnytaste Gina

      You ONLY drain the soaking water. Once they cook, that's you SOUP! You don't drain them again.

    1. From her instructions (between the pictures)

      Discard the soaked water the next day and place in a pot with 12 cups of water, cook uncovered 1 hour on medium-high heat.

    2. Avatar photo
      Skinnytaste Gina

      I only drain them once before they are cooked. Once I cook them, I don't drain them again, it's part of the flavor and thickness of the soup.

    3. Avatar photo
      Chrissy Miller

      I,ended up using vegetable broth bc i but the directions said to drain the water from the beans to my soup ended up being sick and almost drying out so I had to add vegetable broth but it still tastes good

    4. Thanks for the reply Gina, I thought you used the cooking water but wanted to make sure a step wasn't left out like perhaps adding broth or something. Am going to make this tomorrow 🙂

    1. I didn't make this in an instant pot, but I just made it in my stovetop pressure cooker. I did a quick soak of the beans then cooked the beans in 9 cups of water for 14 minutes (l didn't expect the quick soak to work as well as regular soaking.) My cooker recommends a 1:3 ratio cups of beans to water. I kept all other directions the same. Absolutely delish!!