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The Best Creamy Ham Bone Soup

Don’t throw out the ham bone until you have tried this creamy ham bone soup! This creamy ham and potato soup will let you turn leftovers into the ultimate comfort food! Using leftover ham shank, ham bone, potatoes, vegetables, heavy cream, and garam masala, yet without beans, you’ll have a new dish that will leave your family begging for more!

Bowl of ham bone soup in a red bowl with soup spoon to the left

I’ll be honest upfront. One of my biggest complaints about this recipe is the fact that I crave it all year long. But usually, I can only find bone-in ham shank a few times a year.

WHY?

WHY do the stores torment me and only have bone-in hams available around Easter in March and April and Christmas in December? 

This is one reason why I love having an extra freezer! When I actually find a bone-in ham shank, I usually buy a few and store 2-3 extra hams in the freezer solely so I can make this soup a few times throughout the year. Yes, even in the summer, because it is THAT good!

❤️ Why it works

This is not your usual ham bone soup!

You’re probably used to seeing ham bone soups with a clear broth or sometimes, a tomato-based broth loaded with beans. But I just wanted something more. Something different.

Something that wraps you in a blanket of flavor and warmth on a cold day. Or something that will still be calling your tastebuds even if it is hot and you STILL want that hot bowl of ham and potato soup! I’m talking THAT good! 

  • This absolutely delicious ham soup recipe is easy to make in one pot.
  • It is cooked on a stovetop over medium heat but can easily be cooked in a crock pot as well as an instant pot
  • Homemade broth: We don’t use chicken stock, this broth is made from the actual ham bones, so the broth is rich and flavorful. Adding a bit of heavy cream helps bring a creaminess to the broth that is sure to leave everyone asking for more.
  • This is the BEST creamy ham and potato soup with ham bone broth
  • No Beans – although you can add canned beans if you like them, but we have picky kids who won’t eat them.
  • Uses leftover shredded or diced ham and the ham bone so nothing goes to waste
  • Unique – because of the unique spices we add, like garam masala, it is unlike all the other ham and potato ham bone soup recipes out there!

🍽️ Pairs With

This creamy ham and potato soup is usually served as the main course. So the big question is what do you serve along with a bowl of a tasty ham bone soup for a hearty family dinner? We have exactly what you need.

a white plate on a white and blue kitchen towel filled with squares of Sweet Southern Cornbread

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The recipe card at the bottom of the page lists all of the ingredients you need for this soup. However, there are a few ingredients that are worth discussing in more detail. These ingredients are important for the flavor and texture of the soup, and they need to be used in a specific way in order to get the best results

*Ham Bone: The key to this recipe is the homemade ham bone broth. To make this you cook a bone-in ham one day and use the baked ham leftovers to make soup the next day. I often look for a bone-in ham shank, which is meatier than a regular ham because it comes from the area just below the shoulder or the hip. This usually means plenty of meat for the soup and an excellent bone for making a ham bone marrow broth.

If you can’t find a ham with the bone, check your local deli and see if they happen to have any. Or you can also try to substitute with a ham hock. A ham hock is the lower part of a pig’s leg, and it is often used to make ham stock or soup.

*Heavy Cream: For all that is holy in the kitchen, do NOT add the cream too early! Adding heavy cream to soup too early can cause it to curdle. To prevent this, add the cream during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking.

*Garam Masala: This is the secret ingredient that makes this recipe stand out and taste better than others! I have never seen any other ham bone soup call for garam masala.

a bottle of rani brand garam masala seasoning

🧂What is Garam Masala?

Garam masala is a blend of spices that adds a unique flavor, aroma, and warmth to this creamy ham bone soup. The word “garam” means “warm” in Hindi, and it perfectly describes the way this spice blend enhances the soup. Garam masala has a warming scent and aroma that elevates this ham bone soup to the ultimate comfort food.

Don’t worry, garam masala does not make the soup spicy. With the right proportions, even children can enjoy this soup without any issues.

It is important to note that garam masala is often added to soup towards the end of the cooking process. This is because garam masala is a delicate spice blend, and adding it too early can mute the flavors. By adding it at the end of the cooking process, you can ensure that the flavors of the garam masala are fully developed and enhanced.

What are the best potatoes to use in ham bone soup?

Not all potatoes are created equal. The type of potato you pick for your soup will depend on the texture and result you want from the soup.

Different types of potatoes have different starch content, skin thickness, and react differently to heat. Here are the three most common types of potatoes and how they are best used in soup:

  • Red potatoes: These potatoes have a thin skin and a waxy texture. They hold their shape well when cooked, making them a good choice for soups that require potatoes to be left in chunks.
  • Russet potatoes: These potatoes have a high starch content and a fluffy texture. They are best for soups that require potatoes to be mashed, such as baked potato soup. They are also best for baked potatoes, French fries, and mashed potatoes.
  • Yellow (Yukon) potatoes: These potatoes have a medium starch content and a creamy texture. They are a good all-purpose potato that can be used in a variety of soups.

So Which Potato is best for this ham and potato soup? That I will ultimately leave up to you. However, I will say that even though this is a creamy ham bone soup recipe, I prefer to get the creaminess from the heavy cream and not from the starch in the potatoes. I like my potatoes to retain their shape and be a nice bite and not mush. So I prefer using either Red or Yukon Yellow potatoes in this recipe.

🔪Variations

  • BEANS: This is probably the most obvious variation. Almost all ham bone soups include beans. The reason why this one doesn’t is because we have some digestion issues with beans in our family. But rest assured, you can easily add beans to this recipe if you are a fan of beans in your ham bone soup!
  • Vegetables: add in your favorites such as dice celery, peas, green beans, etc.

Cooking Methods

One thing I love about this ham potato soup is that you have several cooking methods! It is an easy slow-cooker soup, or cooked on the stovetop, and can even be made in the pressure cooker!

Stovetop Method

  1. Place the ham bone and bay leaves in a large stockpot and cover it completely with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Remove the ham bone from the broth, set it aside, and allow it to cool on a plate.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the ham bone broth and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are al dente (still slightly firm but mostly cooked)
  4. While the vegetables are cooking remove any ham from the ham bone and dice up any other leftover ham from a previously cooked ham dinner you have around. Add the ham and corn to the soup and continue to cook until warm and the vegetables become tender.
  5. Add in the heavy cream and garam masala. Stir until the cream and garam masala are fully mixed through the soup. Turn off the heat.
  6. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve warm

Instant Pot Method

  1. Place ham bone along with 6 cups water and bay leaves into the pressure cooker. Seal the lid and pressure cook on High for 30 minutes.
  2. Quick release pressure. Remove the ham bone and scrape any meat from the bone and add it back to the soup.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients (EXCEPT the corn, cream, and garam masala) to the pressure cooker. Seal the lid and pressure cook on High for 7-8 minutes. Quick release pressure.
  4. Stir in the canned corn, heavy cream, and garam masala and cook on a simmer setting for an additional 10 minutes until the corn is warmed.
  5. Serve immediately.

CrockPot Method

  1. Place the ham bone and non-starchy vegetables in the slow cooker.
  2. Cover with water (Approximately 6-8 cups), add the bay leaf, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
  3. Then remove the bay leaf and the bone, and cut off any extra meat.
  4. Add the ham and potatoes to the broth and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
  5. Then reduce to LOW add the canned corn, heavy cream, and garam masala and cook an additional 15 minutes to thicken.
a silver crock pot on a granite counter

🗓️ Storage

STORE leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Surprisingly, we found that the soup tasted better on the second day because the spices had time to blend and infuse the flavors.

One downside to this recipe is that it is not freeze-able. The potatoes and heavy cream do not freeze well, and the potatoes will become mushy and the heavy cream will separate when thawed.

If I ever do find a way to freeze this soup and have it still taste just as good, I will definitely let you know!

Bowl of ham bone soup in a red bowl with soup spoon to the left

💭 FAQs

HOW LONG CAN I STORE A HAM BONE?

Store the ham bone in the refrigerator for up to 1 week

CAN I FREEZE A HAM BONE?


YES! You can definitely freeze your ham bone for use later. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

CAN A HAM BONE BE USED MORE THAN ONCE?


No. Once the bone has been simmered for the broth, there is no flavoring left in the bone. Discard the bone.

WHAT IF I THREW MY HAM BONE OUT? 

Visit your local deli and ask if they have a ham bone (or ham hock) that you could purchase. Sometimes you get lucky. 

HOW MUCH HAM SHOULD I ADD TO THE SOUP?

I use the amount of ham that I have left over from a big ham dinner. If I make the soup the day after the dinner, I use about half of the leftover ham. If I make the soup a few days later, I use up the rest of the ham. My family likes a heartier soup, so I always add about 3-4 cups of diced/shredded ham. You can add more or less ham depending on your family’s preference.

CAN I MAKE THIS SOUP IN THE SLOW COOKER?

Yes. Place the ham bone and non-starchy vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover with water, add the bay leaf and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Remove the bay leaf and the bone, and cut off any extra meat. Add the ham and potatoes to the broth and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes. Then reduce to LOW add add the canned corn, heavy cream, and garam masala and cook an additional 15 minutes to thicken.

Bowl of ham bone soup in a red bowl with soup spoon to the left and a plate of sliced bread on the right
Yield: 8 quarts

Creamy Ham Bone Soup

ham bone soup in a red bowl with a slice of bread and butter on top

This creamy ham bone soup lets you turn leftovers into the ultimate comfort food! Using leftover ham shank, ham bone, potatoes, and a warming garam masala, you'll have a new dish that will leave your family wanting more! It's the perfect Ham and Potato soup for any weather all year long!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Leftover Ham Bone
  • 3-4 cups shredded/diced leftover ham shank
  • 8-12 cups water
  • 6 Red or Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion diced
  • 2 Large Carrots sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala

Instructions

  1. Place the ham bone and bay leaves in a large stockpot and cover it completely with water.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat
  3. Reduce and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. While the bone broth is simmering, chop the onion and add to the broth.
  5. Peel and chop potatoes into bite-size pieces, dice the carrots, drain the corn, and measure out all your seasonings.
  6. Remove the ham bone from the broth, set it aside, and allow it to cool on a plate
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots to the ham bone broth
  8. Combine salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic into the broth
  9. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are al dente (still slightly firm but mostly cooked)
  10. While the vegetables are cooking remove any ham from the ham bone and dice up any other leftover ham from a previously cooked ham dinner you have around.
  11. Add the ham and corn to the soup and continue to cook until warm and the vegetables become tender.
  12. Once the vegetables are tender and the ham and corn are warm add in the heavy cream and garam masala.
  13. Stir until the cream and garam masala are fully mixed through the soup.
  14. Turn off the heat.
  15. Remove bay leaves before serving.
  16. Serve warm

Notes

Chef Tips

  • Do not add the cream until the last 20 minutes of cooking. Adding too early will curdle the soup.
  • Only add in the garam masala at the end. Adding too early in the recipe will mute the flavors and you will not get the right flavor.

You can actually simmer the ham bone for about 24 hours for the best results. This really draws the bone marrow and nutrients from the bone and makes an amazing bone broth for the ham bone soup. Though many busy moms don't always have the time to do this, thus why it is listed only as 2 hours in the main recipe. In 2 hours you can get a great ham flavor into the soup.

If you simmer for longer, set reminders to check the simmering ham bone every few hours to check and add water to ensure that it doesn't run dry, or you risk burning, ruining pots, and possibly kitchen fire. DO NOT FORGET the simmering bone!

The amount of ham you include is really up to you. My family loves a lot of meat so I often save about 3-4 big slices of ham from the ham dinner when we cooked up the ham shank the first time, and dice that to go with the ham that is left on the bone. You can add more or less depending on how your family prefers the ratio of meat to soup.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5-6 days.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

32

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 699mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although Busy Creating Memories attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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