Several years ago my husband bought an Instant Pot for our home.
For embarrassingly too long, I was intimidated by the electric pressure cooker features and used it only as an expensive crock pot.
With the help of a family friend (and by help, I mean he pushed a few buttons, told me it would taste better than cooking it all day, and assured me it would not explode on my counter), I finally discovered the wonderful world of Instant Pot cooking.
Of course, I already knew it would be quicker than stove top or slow cooking. But there was so much flavor. It really was better than a slow cooker. You know how some dishes taste better the next day? That was the taste! It had the flavor of eating a savory, hearty meal the next day.
You’ll also be happy to hear that it did not explode all over my kitchen.
This ham and bean soup recipe came from that first venture into Instant Pot, high-pressure cooking. It has since been refined into the perfect comfort food recipe to enjoy on cold days and busy evenings.
Let the flavors meld together beautifully in your pressure cooker while you set the table.
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This easy ham and white bean soup has simple ingredients:
Chopped, fresh vegetables: carrots, celery, onion, and minced garlic.
There is some leeway here for your personal preference. I recommend chopping your veggies to strike a balance between ease (no need to make them perfect) and making all of the vegetables a similar size for the texture and consistency of the final soup.
However, feel free to carefully dice your vegetables, especially if you have picky-eaters averse to lots of veggies.
Or save time by quicky slicing the carrots and celery, which will still fully cook after 10 minutes on high pressure.
I have tested everything from dicing to slicing, and have always been happy with the results!
Pantry staples: olive oil, ground pepper, dried thyme, and sage. A little goes a long way in a pressure cooker. Because of the salt in the ham and broth, there is no need to add salt. And ½ teaspoon of each spice adds plenty of savory flavor. You can increase the amount of thyme and sage (up to 1 teaspoon each) if you want a rich herbal flavor. Keep in mind that sage is stronger and more earthy than thyme. Add too much sage and you may need to rename this Sage, Ham & Bean Soup!
Chicken broth: Pacific Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth is my preferred brand of chicken broth. It is labeled gluten-free (some brands of chicken broth contain added gluten flavorings) and is full of flavor. This recipe uses only 2 cups of chicken broth. Along with the moisture in the other ingredients, the broth allows for just the right amount of liquid to give the soup an amazingly thick texture.
Cubed Ham: This hearty soup is the perfect way to reimagine your leftover holiday ham! We occasionally buy a giant ham from Costco for Easter or New Year’s Eve. It’s labeled gluten-free and, like everything else from Costco, feeds a crowd with plenty to spare. Extra ham, including the leftover ham bone, can be used in this easy recipe. No leftover meat? Buy pre-diced ham.
This recipe is designed for (drained and rinsed) canned beans.
Why canned beans?
They cook much more quickly than dry beans. Using dry beans requires significantly more cook time, pressure cooker release time, and liquid.
There’s no need to presoak. With canned beans, a quick drain-and-rinse is all they need to be ready for the Instant Pot.
Additionally, for those of us on a medically necessary, gluten-free diet, dried beans are often cross-contaminated with gluten in the factory and frequently have a “may contain wheat” warning on the package.
While the recipe calls for white beans, that’s not a hard and fast rule. Feel free to use your favorite white beans or even black beans. All varieties of Bush’s canned beans are gluten-free, which is noted on each can. Plus, they are easy to find in most grocery stores. The following options all work well in this recipe:
Use the Saute function on your Instant Pot to saute the vegetables.
Press “saute” on your Instant Pot to preheat the cooker.
When hot, add olive oil, diced carrots, celery, onion, and minced garlic to the pot.
Stirring occasionally while cooking for approximately four minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Add cubed ham. Include leftover ham bone for more flavor, if you have one. Combine drained and rinsed beans, broth, and seasonings.
Pressure cook for 10 minutes.
Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Press “manual” and use the + and – buttons to select 10 minutes of pressure cooking time.
Wait 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure.
When the soup is done, the Instant Pot will beep and go into “keep warm” mode. Set a 10-minute time to allow for natural pressure release. After 10 minutes, press “cancel” and manually release any remaining pressure by using an oven mitt to twist the steam release handle on the lid to the “venting” position.
Mash or blend the soup to thicken.
Mash the soup with a potato masher for a few minutes. The mashed beans will create a thick, delicious soup.
Alternatively, you can quickly use an immersion blender. Or put two cups of soup in a regular blender, blend for 10 seconds, and then stir it back into the remaining soup.
Ladle your fabulous soup into soup bowls. Optionally, top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh parsley, as much for presentation as for taste.
It’s a complete meal on its own, but tastes even better with a salad and your favorite gluten-free bread.
Earlier this week, my whole family enjoyed this great recipe with Red Lobster’s gluten-free cheddar biscuits. Garlic bread and cornbread are also excellent options.
Instant Pot Ham and Bean Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup carrots (diced) approx 3 medium carrots
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 lb cooked ham (cubed)
- 2 16-oz cans white beans (drained and rinsed) such as Bush's Cannellini Beans
- 16 oz chicken broth
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried sage
- Press "saute" on your Instant Pot to preheat. When hot, add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot. Stirring occasionally, cook for four minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Press "manual" and select 10 minutes of pressure cooking time.
- When the soup is done (beeps), allow a 10-minute natural release (let cooker go into "keep warm mode" for 10 minutes). Then press "cancel" and do a manual release by using a pot holder to twist the steam release handle on the lid to the "venting" position.
- (optional) For thicker soup, mash the soup with a potato masher, blend with an immersion blender, or blend two cups of soup in a regular blender and then stir into the remaining soup.