Healthy goodness to tame winter’s chill
Polar vortex got you down? Tired of shoveling snow? Then come inside and warm up with a nice bowl of homemade soup.
Here at Kitchen Riffs central, we often turn to soup when winter wallops us. Soup makes an easy (and hearty) one-dish meal. And this bean soup is loaded with lots of healthy flavors.
So it’s just the thing to put Old Man Winter in his place.
Recipe: White Bean and Quinoa Soup with Ham
It’s easy to substitute ingredients in this recipe. Lacking white beans? Select another kind. Fresh out of quinoa? Rice or a small-shape pasta works just as well. Don’t have ham (or want to make a vegan dish)? Mushrooms can add terrific umami flavor. Or just leave out this component altogether. More about substitutions in the Notes.
We like to use dried beans when we make this dish, although you could substitute canned if you wish (see Notes). If using dried beans, you’ll need to soak them first (for about an hour if using the quick-soak method; otherwise overnight).
Once they’ve been soaked, the dried beans will take about an hour to cook. Prep time for the other ingredients is 15 minutes or so (you can do the prep work while the beans are cooking).
This recipe makes about 3 quarts. Leftovers freeze well.
- 1½ cups dried white beans (see Notes)
- ~6 cups water, chicken stock, or ham stock (stock is tastier; see Notes)
- ~1 cup chopped onion (approximately 1 large onion; exact quantity not critical)
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic (to taste)
- olive oil (“pure” olive oil—the cheap stuff—is fine; or substitute vegetable oil of your choice)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon Kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (a dozen grinds or so for us)
- 12 to 16 ounces ham
- ~1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ~¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or to taste; may omit if you wish)
- ~¾ cup quinoa (more if you want a quinoa-rich dish, or less if you prefer; we use red quinoa, but white works well too)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- Quick-soak the dried beans: Pick over the beans to remove any dirt or stones. Place the beans in a large cooking pot or Dutch oven (one that holds 4 quarts or more), and add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes. Then remove the cooking pot from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for an hour (longer is OK). See Notes for alternatives to the quick-soak method.
- When ready to prepare the soup, drain the beans. Place the beans back in the cooking pot, then add about 6 cups of water or stock (you may need to add more later). Bring the beans to a simmer on medium stovetop heat, then reduce the heat so the beans simmer very slowly. Skim off any scum that may rise to the surface. Set a timer for 40 minutes.
- Now prep the remaining ingredients: Peel the onions and cut them into dice of ½ inch or a bit smaller. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely, or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet (preferably nonstick) on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the olive oil. When the oil has heated (15 seconds or so—it’ll shimmer), add the onions. Season with salt and black pepper (to taste), and sauté the onions for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the ham into dice of about ¼ inch.
- After the onions have been cooking for 5 minutes, add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for a minute. Add the dried thyme and red pepper flakes, cook for 30 seconds or so, then pour the contents of the skillet into the bean pot.
- Add the ham pieces to the bean pot. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- When the timer goes off (see Step 2 above), prepare the quinoa according to package directions (this should take about 15 to 20 minutes). When the quinoa is cooked, add it to the beans. Add more water or stock if necessary, taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning. Test to make sure the beans are fully cooked (they should be, since they’ll have been cooking for about an hour at this point). If they’re not, continue simmering the soup until the beans are soft and tender.
- When beans are cooked, add a cup of frozen peas to the soup. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Instead of quick-soaking the beans (Step 1), you can soak them the night before you make the soup. Just pick over the beans to remove any dirt or stones. Place the beans in a large cooking pot or Dutch oven, then cover them in water by at least 3 inches. Allow the beans to soak overnight. When you’re ready to proceed, continue with Step 2.
- You can make this dish without soaking the beans at all. But the beans will take much longer to cook—so add at least an hour to the cooking time in Step 2.
- Or you could use canned beans. In that case, the beans will need to cook for only half an hour or so.
- We like this dish best with white beans, such as Great Northerns. Navy beans also work well. But you could substitute pinto beans or black beans—or just about any other type of bean that you fancy.
- You can make this dish with plain water, but we like to use ham stock or chicken stock (broth). The quickest and easiest way to make stock is by using soup base—a concentrated paste that’s sold in the soup aisle of your supermarket. Just mix the paste with water (using as much as you need to make the flavor as strong as you wish).
- If you don’t want to use ham in this dish, you can leave it out. Or substitute mushrooms: Clean about a pound of mushrooms and cut them into dice of ½ inch or so. Sauté the mushrooms with olive oil or butter, then add them to the soup pot in Step 8.
- We generally use Kosher salt in our cooking. This is coarser than regular table salt, so it doesn’t seem as “salty” by volume. If you’re using table salt, reduce the amount specified for seasoning the onions (Step 5) by about half.
- You can add more (or less) quinoa than the amount specified in the recipe. Or substitute rice. Or use a small pasta like ditalini, acini di pepe, orzo, or something similar.
- Frozen peas are generally high quality, and they’re one of our freezer staples. But if fresh green peas are available, you can of course substitute them in this recipe.
Soup in a Cold Climate
“This sure warms me up,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, spooning her soup.
“Yes,” I agreed. “Though our winter has been fairly mild compared to the northeastern part of the US.”
“Those poor folks in Boston keep having one winter storm after another,” said Mrs K R.
“Is that what they call a snowball effect?” I asked between slurps.
“Well, they’re definitely snowed under,” said Mrs K R.
“Fortunately, spring will be here in just a few weeks.” I said. “And that’s snow joke.”
“You sleighed me with that one,” said Mrs K R. “Not.”
Probably time to shut up. I know when I’m on thin ice.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Red Beans and Rice Soup
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup
Winter Squash, Corn, and Bacon Chowder
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Fennel Soup with Shrimp and Beans
Moroccan Carrot Soup
Or check out the index for more recipes
Hi John , this soup really hits the spot , I agree , beans are better soaked overnight . I keep a pot of soup on the back warmer burner , It warms you up in a hurry .
Love this soup , the ingredients definitely bring it together , now a chunk of cornbread and the feast is on . Thanks so much for sharing , gotta go now and put my beans in soak . :)
Hi Nee, cornbread would indeed make this a feast! I actually go back and forth between overnight soaking, quick soaking, and even not soaking at all. Very subtle difference among the methods. But I often end up doing a quick-soak simply because I decide to make soup only a few hours before I want to eat it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This will go down a treat! We've been slammed with 2 storms really close together, last one dropped 20 inches here. We have another snow storm headed this afternoon, another 8 inches expected...brrr!
This would definitely be welcome! I love canned beans for convenience but there's nothing like soaked beans...they just add a natural creaminess that the canned ones don't. I always try to use dried beans. Just out of curiosity, why do you like the red quinoa more than the white? I use both, but like you I prefer the red. I think it holds its shape a bit better and doesn't get mushy.
This soup is definitely in order. Along with the heartiness and warming features, I love the addition of green peas--it gives hope that spring is right around the corner. I'll be putting my own pot of soup on in a little while. Thank you, Rocquie
Hi Nazneen, it's the shape thing for the red quinoa. I can't tell any difference in flavor between them. And you're right -- the white variety does get mushy. Anyway, hope you weather the storm OK! Thanks for he comment.
Hi Rocquie, green peas really add a bolt of flavor and color, don't they? Can't wait for spring to get here! Thanks for the comment.
A hearty bowl of bean soup sure does warm the tummy John. I made a black bean and quinoa soup last night as a matter of fact. I didn't have any white beans but I sure wish I had for this type of soup. For some reason black beans just don't have the desired texture for me as I look at how nice and "meaty" those white beans look in your soup look.
Pretty soon, we'll be springing the clocks ahead and before long the first day of Spring will be upon us. Oh goodie!!!
Thanks for sharing, John...
It looks so good and comforting... perfect for these still-chilly days. Love several proteins in this dish: beans, quinoa, and ham.
This combination of incredients sounds marvelous! I even have a ham bone in the freezer! I'd love some of your whole wheat bread on the side, too!
I'm a soak the dried beans person too. I've tried the non-soaking, but it just doesn't work for me. The texture of the beans is weird. Have you tried the non-soaking method?
Quinoa with white beans and ham sounds interesting. I am sure it will keep us warm for this cold weather. I like the soaked texture of beans.
We are expecting another wallop this afternoon and tomorrow, so soup it on the menu! (again) I like that you added quinoa, I've made bean soup a gazillion times and never once thought to add that in. Good one!
I don't eat ham, but this recipe has me reminiscing on when I went to Austria and ate all the sauerkraut in the world that was stewed in ham hocks - and I gave NOOOOOO sh**s about that because it was just too dang good... And everything is healthier in Europe, right?
Love the sound of this one, John... it's beginning to cool down here now, so saving this for the winter.
We eat a lot of bean soups and this one sounds great with your combination of peas and beans.
I am so tired of the cold and snow shoveling! This soup might actually alleviate some of the suffering. It looks wonderful.
I follow your boil a minute soak a while method too. GREG
Hi Louise, I like how creamy white beans become in this dish. Black beans seem to have a different character, don't they? And I guess we move our clocks ahead in a week and a half or so -- yikes! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, loads of protein in this dish. And flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, the whole wheat bread would be a wonderful side to this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pamela, I have tried the non-soaking method. I find it works best if you cook the beans in a clay pot, in the oven, with very low heat. You can do it on the stovetop too, but the texture seems better to me if you cook the beans in the oven. So many choices! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shibi, you've got some awfully cold weather, so you need all the warmth you can get! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, I really like quinoa in soup. But I also make plenty of soups with rice or pasta! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, I'm pretty sure you're right that everything is healthier in Europe. And less fattening. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, still way too early for you to be craving soup to take the chill off, but it won't be long. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, aren't bean soups good? Can't get enough of them! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, your winter has been worse than ours, but I've definitely had enough of the snow. I'm OK with cold weather as long as the ground is clear -- hard to get out and walk otherwise. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, it's a good method, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
What a delicious and interesting soup this one is. I enjoy all of your ingredients except the quinoa, my family is not fond of that ingredient...so I will sub some small pasta, like some acini di pepe or orzo. That would be a great choice I think. Love the beans and yes, I would soak them overnight.Also like the idea of using chicken stock, it would give it more flavor for sure. I am sure that this would hit the spot, especially with the weather still so cold and snow everywhere. I love the banter between you and Mrs. K Riffs. I always get a chuckle when I read what you both are saying...Excellent soup and post..thanks for sharing...Have a fantastic rest of the week...
So I best shovel this post to the top of my pile, huh? Soup sure hits the spot and yours is always so pretty to boot! Snow boots, that is! Can't get enough beans lately. They sure seem to fill me up and that's a good thing!
This looks so warming .. oh and the colors of the dish is so appealing. I gotta try this with turkey or chicken... perfect for these days it is so cold here.
Oh those beans look so creamy! I could eat off of a great pot of soup like this for a week, love the photos, too :)
It is autumn soon in Melbourne and it is still warm in the opposite of the world. Despite the heat, I don't having this beautiful soup because it is a heart warming soup to sip.
Hi Dottie, a small pasta would be wonderful in this soup! I go back and forth on whether to soak the beans overnight or do a quick soak (or not soak them at all and just cook longer). They all seem to work pretty well. So I do all three, depending on my mood (and the time have). :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, the puns are piling up around here. Kinda like the mounds of snow outside. ;-) Well, our mounds have pretty well melted, thank goodness. Got positively balmy today -- low 40s. But really cold again soon. So more bean soup is on tap. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amira, turkey or chicken would be really good in this. In fact maybe better than the ham. But ham was what had in my refrigerator. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sue, white beans really do make a creamy soup, don't they? And the quinoa helps them along in that regard. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Zoe, you've had another really hot summer! And I actually like hot soup any time of the yer. But it's always best when its snowy outside. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love that you used dried beans in this recipe instead of just canned beans. Great description on all the possible options. I'm always looking for another great ham and bean soup!
I love beans in soup with the ham. I haven't tried quinoa in soup, but sounds delicious. This would hit the spot with it being so cold.
I keep looking at the temperatures in the northeast and the pictures of all of the snow and it makes me want a bowl of hot soup. Love soups with grains and beans and yours is a great combination! Have never added quinoa to a soup, but I can see how it would work. Does it continue to absorb the water and burst as it sits overnight? I know that's a problem with rice and pasta. Great soup John!
I keep getting updates, with pics, from friends and family living in US of how it snows like crazy there. I am going to send them your recipe of this delicious and comforting soup. :)
thanks for sharing
Hi Kathy, ham and bean soup is a classic, isn't it? And this is just a variation. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, beans and ham really pair well, don't they? And this is perfect for combating the cold! Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, because you cook the quinoa separately, it doesn't absorb too much extra liquid as it sits (and it tends to disintegrate quite a bit anyway -- in that way it's unlike rice or pasta). It adds an interesting flavor to the soup, and a ton of nutrition. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Taruna, parts of the US have been getting crazy cold and snow. We've had just a little, but that was more than enough. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This is sounding so nice and amazing. Sending across so much warmth. Loved it.
Oh wow! Lots of flavors in this soup! Would love a bowl of this.
We bet this soup is going to be loved all year round...the creaminess from white beans,hint of sweetness from peas and those robust ingredients make this dish ideal for all seasons and a must have for winters...here it is well into spring yet evenings are cold and breezy...this soup is definitely going to get a thumbs up at home,thanks so much :-)
I know, I feel bad for folks in east coast. We're having spring here - my cherry trees are blooming already. They're so confused! We have no snow in the mountain and it's Feb... Though I still enjoy soup and stews despite the weather. I don't use white beans much, and you gave me a wonderful idea of this soup with quinoa. Looks very hearty and yummy!
wow! What a lovely soup! I love pictures you took! Looks great!
Hi Minnie, you really need this with the winter you've had! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, this really is flavorful stuff -- and so nice and warming! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kumar, although we eat much more soup in cold weather than in warm, we do indeed make a soup like this throughout the year. Just a nice combo of flavors. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nami, white beans really are nice. Their flavor is a bit on the subtle side, so they pick up on the flavors of other ingredients. Fun stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Marcela, isn't this nice? We have some left in the freezer. It's snowing today, so I think I know its fate! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks so yummy! My toddler daughter loves beans and ham! I wonder if the recipe could be made in the crock pot?
I would do a lot to get my hands on that scrumptious bowl of soup. Delightful!
Hi Kerry, I don't see why not. I'd get the beans started in crock pot with water or stock. After a couple of hours I'd saute the onion and garlic, and add it and the ham, and let cook until the beans are done (the reason not to add the onion right at the beginning is because it'll lose flavor if cooked too long int he crock pot). Then at the end cook up the quinoa, and add to the crock pot along with the peas. At least that's how I'd approach it -- I haven't made it in the crock pot. Let us know how it turns out! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Minnie, soup is good stuff, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks like such a hearty dish! I like how you combined beans and quinoa.
There is nothing better than a hearty soup on a cold winter day... this one looks delicious!
We in the Pacific NW have had a winter even more milder than usual. BUT despite the fact I am not shoveling snow, I lust after this soup. OMG the bean size. Yikes, I wouldn't want to meet a gang of them in a dark alley. Delish!
The only thing better than homemade soup is homemade soup that freezes well. Win!
It won't be long before winter arrives down under. We're not quite ready to give summer up but we're not selfish. I will save this recipe for the FIRST cold day. Yum.
This white bean soup looks delicious John, I love everything that you have in it...and yes to quinoa...nothing like a hearty bowl of soup.
Hope you are having a great week :)
Hi Beth, it's so good having soup in the freezer, isn't it? Instant dinner! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, you'll find yourself looking forward to the first cold day so you can make this. :-) But of course that's a ways off yet. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, this really is nice and healthy. And tasty! The most important thing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, it really is hearty! And it snowed here again today, so it's a much needed dish. Darn it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it is delicious, it is! ;-) And it's really cold here at the moment, so we're glad to have some in the freezer. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carol, I don't mind the cold, as long as it's above 15 degrees F, but shoveling snow is for the birds. Thanks for the comment.
You have NO idea how tired of I am of shoveling snow. It has become a party of my daily routine. Pass me some of this soup!
Hi Ashley, a bowl of soup coming up! You live in snow country -- I can imagine how tired you get of it! Thanks for the comment.
This post makes me hungry. Yum!
Hi SuperLux, always happy to make someone hungry! Thanks for the comment.
You are one of the few bloggers in this world wide web that will make me look at a recipe with quinoa in soup. Because I trust your taste! :)
I keep hearing about how dreadful the weather is in Boston. We have friends who moved there for two years and they did spend a lot of time whinging about the rain and the snow and the low, low, low, temperatures and the fleeting summer. I also always have peas in the freezer. I heard Jamie Oliver once say, 'Anyone who doesn't have peas in their freezer is just a snob'. So...I'd never want to be thought of as a snob so we always have frozen peas! I do think your soup looks very comforting xx
I am digging the contrast in the colors of beans and peas. Gorgeous looking soup. It is difficult to make soups look gorgeous but you guys just did!! And healthy and nutritious to boot.
Hi Nagi, thanks for that very nice comment! :-) And this is really nice soup. Even though it has quinoa in it. ;-)
Hi Charlie, there's nothing like fresh peas from the garden. But who has a chance to get those? Unless you grow your own, frozen peas are almost always "fresher" than what you can buy in the supermarket. And Boston does have some extreme weather at times. Lovely city, though. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ansh, I had fun playing with textures and colors with this soup! Thanks for the compliment, and comment.
My dad used to make something very similar to your delicious soup but he did not add red pepper flakes or peas and I bet that little zest and freshness really make this soup taste amazing. Just love that first photo and how the red and black make your soup photos just pop! Sharing, of course!
On a side note just wondering how many photos do you have to shoot with each of your posts to get your favourite shots?
I' bve not used quinoa in a soup yet; maybe it's time. I will share though that for a couple of years when my kids were first both gone fulltime, I basically quit cooking soups that required ham because there was no way I was going to go through a ham by myself and get the hambone that is so important. One day I had a brainiac idea and wondered is Honey Baked Ham sold ham bones since I knew they sold prepared sandwiches. I called, the answer was yes and I've got one in the freezer now...but that's changing momentarily! Can you tell I'm playing catchup...but maybe you built my meal for tomorrow! ! :)
Hi Bam, I put red pepper flakes in as many dishes as I can. :D Love that zing! On photos, before I started shooting tethered it was at least 100 to get the 4 I typically use for each post. Now that I'm shooting tethered, it's usually 40 to 70 -- normally around 50 or 60.It actually takes longer to shoot tethered because I'm using Lightroom to do it, and I can crop photos as I take them to check the composition and do a raw conversion to make sure things will look like I expect them to. So I tend to tinker a bit more with the composition and lighting -- but taking photos is fun, so that's pure pleasure. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, ham base is a great substitute for a ham bone. But I agree, there's no real substitute for a ham bone when it comes to flavor! Thanks for the comment.
I agree, soup is such a Winter bla's fix. I could eat it every day. And being a fan of white beans, this looks really good.
Hi Lea Ann, it's going to snow here tonight (again!), and we have some of this in the freezer. Good thing! We'll need it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I can feel my throat getting a bit scratchy--I am so ready for this soup. And just in time! I'm off to go grab my pots right now :)
Hi Ala, hope you're not getting sick! But this is the antidote. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This is perfect for a cold weather, warm and very comforting
Alas, when will winter end? I love the sounds of the soup with the quinoa and beans and ham and peas. If I am snowed in again tomorrow, I may try a version of this with what's on hand. Stay warm.
Hi Raymund, it really is a nice soup, and so appropriate for the cold, snowy weather we're currently experiencing! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, the last few weeks have been kind of disgusting, haven't they? We got a bunch of snow last night. Think we might miss tomorrow's, but who knows? :-( Thanks for the comment.
Yes to quinoa in any soup and this one looks so hearty. Perfect cold weather soup.
I really feel bad for all who are managing the crazy weather, hope it gets better soon.
Hi Asha, I think using quinoa in soups is my favorite way to use it -- it picks up the flavors of the other ingredients so nicely. We had a bunch of snow over the weekend, but it was light, so it didn't take that long to shovel out. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This would definitely tame winter's chill! Love those beans and your humor too, snow kidding! More snow on the way here and all that goes with it. Here's to Spring and your great soup!
Hi Pam, spring is looking mighty good at the moment, isn't it? Still, this soup makes winter bearable. Thanks for the comment.
White beans and ham are such a classic pairing. The quinoa definitely makes it different and even more nourishing.
Hi Carolyn, white beans and ham really are great together, aren't they? The quinoa adds a bit of fun to the dish. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Thought that white beans will taste perfectly, just as you did here. You make great soups just as your booze collection!! Thanks for sharing!
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
Really like the sound of this and a great way to use quinoa.
I like this soup a lot - white bean + ham make a terrific soup, but the addition of quinoa makes it even better. A perfect bowl of warming goodness!
Hi Julie & Alesah, we do eat a lot of soup! Love the stuff. Perfect in cold weather, but we also like it in the summer. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, quinoa is a bit bland all by itself, but it plays really well with other ingredients. Particularly in soup! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, this is a fun twist on an old traditional recipe, isn't it? Perfect indeed! Thanks for the comment.
I keep seeing so many good soup recipes these days. This one is definitely one of them. I think I will have to have some for dinner soon!
Hi Pamela, one can never have too many good soup recipes! And with your weather, you need them -- you've had a tough winter. Thanks for the comment.
Snow is in the air! What a perfect soup for colder days and, it has white beans, always a bonus. I love your suggestion of adding mushroom instead of ham and I never have thought to put quinoa in a soup before... a wonderful suggestion John :)
Hi Merryn, we often use mushrooms instead of meat -- they have a "meaty" texture, and their flavor is wonderful. Thanks for the comment.
Love soups with beans - your soup looks so delicious! It's so perfect right now with all the snow we've been getting in the US!
Hi Julia, we had snow earlier then week, but tomorrow it'll be close to 50! So I hope it all melts. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Simple soups like this one are my very favorite. Healthy but very satisfying on a cold winter night. Excellent recipe! Thank for sharing it!
Hi Bill, we've had plenty of cold weather this winter, so we've had plenty of soup. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
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