Ham and Lima Bean Soup is the perfect hearty soup that can be made in no time at all thanks to our friend, the Ninja Foodi!
I happen to LOVE lima beans, but I know not everyone is a fan. My husband is one that will cringe if I mention using lima beans in anything. He must have memories of overcooked, mushy, and tasteless lima beans of his youth. No disrespect to my mother-in-law, she is a great cook and so is my Mom, but overcooked limas was just a rite of passage in our houses.
I always liked them though, maybe because mom put butter and salt on them. Yummy! I could literally eat a whole bowl of nothing but lima beans. The kind that used to come frozen in a box. Speaking of boxes, do they even sell frozen vegetables that way anymore? I haven't seen them in forever.
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As many of you know, I cooked 6 hams over the course of a few weeks and I have plenty of ham to use up! One of the ham recipes is this super easy and delicious Ham & Broccoli Casserole! The cheese sauce is divine and it's so easy to make!
Of course, a ham and bean soup also came to mind right away. Since I already have a ham and bean vegetable soup in my Flavors of Fall cookbook, I knew I couldn't use the 15 bean mix I usually use. I decided to make a ham and navy bean soup.
Except, I didn't have any navy beans. I did have dried baby lima beans though and figured I would test the recipe with those and pick up navy beans for the "real" recipe. Well... that didn't happen because this Ham and Lima Bean Soup turned out so perfect that I am not changing a thing!
That doesn't mean you can't change it up and I will give my suggestions for that in the post!
What Type of Beans can I use in this Recipe?
You can really use any beans you want. You would just want to adjust your cook time according to the bean type. There are many factors that come into play when determining cook time for various types of beans and the size of the bean doesn't always matter.
For example, navy beans, which are very common in a ham and bean soup, are smaller in size that a baby lima bean, but they actually take longer to cook. There are things you can do to shorten the cook time of navy beans, like pre soak them. There really isn't any need to do that though. I would just put them in dry and increase the pressure cook time to 60 minutes. This will not affect any of the other ingredients and should be plenty of time to get your navy beans cooked up.
Great northern beans which are similar in shape and size to the baby lima bean will take about the same time to cook, so you don't need to make any changes if you are using these beans.
Large lima beans, which are also called butter beans will take a little longer to cook, so I would increase the pressure cook time to 60 minutes.
Before you decide which bean you want to use, I encourage you to look over this article because you might just decide to try out the baby lima bean after all!
Do I have to Soak the Beans before making Ham and Lima Bean Soup?
I don't. I know there are many people who insist on soaking their beans first and that is perfectly fine, but I find the pressure cooker does a fine job and cooking the beans from dry.
So, if this is the case, why does the Ninja Foodi cookbook charts say that all beans have to be soaked prior to pressure cooking? Good question. The answer is, safety. Does this mean that it's unsafe to cook dry beans in a pressure cooker? No. What it means is you need to follow the recipe and the amounts to prevent issues from arising that could cause safety issues.
Never fill your pot past the halfway mark when cooking dry beans. Beans expand during pressure cooking and they also produce foam. If too much foam is produced AND your pot is too full, it can clog your release valve and inhibit the release of pressure.
Always allow the pot to release its pressure naturally for at least 5 minutes.
There is also a lot of talk on the internet about toxins in beans. I did a little research on this and I am reassured that the high temperature in the pressure cooker will neutralize any toxins present.
Can I Presoak the Beans before making Ham and Lima Bean Soup?
Yes, of course. Pre soaking will cut down the amount of cook time and the amount of liquid that is absorbed, so you will have to adjust the recipe accordingly. For an 8 hour presoak, I would suggest cutting the time and the liquid by 25%. Keep in mind that these are just my suggestions, I have not tested the recipe with pre soaked beans.
This means that you would decrease the liquid to 3 ¾ cups, I would still use the 2 cups of ham juices and reduce the water to 1¾ cups. The reduced cook time would be 34 minutes.
When pre soaking your beans, make sure to use room temp water and keep the beans covered during the entire soaking process. I usually use 4-6 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans, that is before the pressure cooker! I never presoak beans now.
Can I Cut this Recipe in Half or Double it?
Yes, you can cut it in half easily! Simply cut all the ingredients in ½ except the ham bone of course and cook the same amount of time.
Now, doubling it is another story and it depends on what size Ninja Foodi you have.
For the 5qt model, I would not double the recipe, but you shouldn't have to cut in half either. Don't increase the beans though and make sure to natural pressure release for at least 5 minutes.
This recipe as written makes 10 cups of soup, so I would not double it if you have the 6.5 qt. I realize it will fit, but remember, we are cooking with beans and we don't want any issues with clogging the valve. You can, however increase the recipe by 1 ½ times and be just fine. You would still only use 1 ham bone and the same cooking time.
You can double the recipe if you have the 8 qt Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot. You can still use one ham bone and supplement with extra ham. Same cook time.
Do I have to Use a Ham Bone and Ham Juices?
No, you don't. You can use a ham hock instead of the bone or skip it all together and use a ham base instead. Same with the juices. If you don't have leftover juices from a recently cooked ham, no worries. Use the ham base and you will be fine!
As far as the ham meat itself goes, you can use any kind of ham meat that you have, but I would recommend using an unsliced ham for best results. If your ham is not on the bone, you should add it into the soup before the first pressure cooking time to help flavor the soup. You will need about 1 pound of ham meat.
The ham base that I recommend and use is this one: Minors Ham Base. I have used many brands over the years and the Minors bases have the most depth of flavor without being overly salty in my opinion. The only downside is, you can't usually find the Minors bases in the regular grocery stores. It is available on Amazon, but make sure you compare prices because some sellers charge a delivery fee that makes it super expense. You can find this product and many more in my Amazon store: The Salted Pepper's Amazon Store
There are also other brands of ham bases that you can find in some local grocery stores, if you can't get a good price on the Minors when you need it.
To use the Minors ham base in place of ham juices, I would use 1 teaspoon per cup of water. You can always add more if you need to.
Now, let's get to making some soup!
How to Make Ham and Lima Bean Soup
There is very little prep for this ham and lima bean soup. YAY! Simply dice up the onion, slice 1 stalk of celery and 2 carrots (the other stalk of celery and 2 carrots will be used later). I don't worry too much about size because they will cook long enough to be very soft and even break apart. Peel and smash the garlic cloves. Rinse the lima beans and look for any misshapen or discolored ones or any other debris and remove it. That's it for now.
Place the ham bone with the meat in the inner pot, add the bay leaf, ham juices and water. Then add in the chopped celery and carrots and the diced onion. Add in the lima beans and stir, so they are under the liquid. Add in the garlic cloves and the thyme.
Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 45 minutes. If you want a firmer bean, reduce the PC time to 35-40 minutes. When the pressure cook time is complete. Allow to natural release for 5-10 minutes.
While the ham and lima bean soup is pressure cooking, slice up your remaining celery and carrots. You want them to cook quickly, so slice them as thin as possible. You can use a mandoline slicer, but I usually just use a sharp knife. The knife I've been using for several years is an 8' Chef's Knife from Pampered Chef. It has a great feel to it, so if you are in the market for a new knife, this one is worth considering.
Here is a short video showing how I sliced the celery.
Remove the ham bone from the soup and place on cutting board to cool. Give the soup broth a taste and determine if you need to add any seasonings or additional ham base. Turn the sear/sauté on high and add in the sliced carrots and celery. Allow the ham bone to cool until you can safely handle it to remove the meat. During this time, the carrots and celery will cook through and soften.
Remove the meat from the ham bone and chop up into bite size pieces. Add into soup. Give the ham and lima bean soup a stir, make sure the carrots are done to your liking.
Serve and Enjoy! A great accompaniment to this ham and lima bean soup is a nice slice of warm bread! Did you know you can proof and make your bread right in the Ninja Foodi? You can and it's delicious. Here is my recipe for Homemade Bread in the Ninja Foodi.
Ham and Lima Bean Soup
- Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker and Air Crisper
- 1 ham bone see notes if you don't have a ham bone
- 1 lb ham from the bone if using
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 stalks celery divided
- 4 medium carrots divided
- 1 onion Vidalia or sweet is what I used
- 4 cloves garlic
- 8 ounces baby lima beans dried
- 2 cups Ham Juices see notes if you don't have ham juices
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon thyme leaves dried
- Dice up the onion into ¼-½" dice. Slice 1 stalk of celery and 2 carrots into about ¼-½" slice. Peel and smash garlic cloves. Rinse the baby lima beans and remove any that are discolored, along with any stones or other debris.
- Add the ham bone to the inner pot and add the bay leaf, water, ham juices, vegetables, garlic and thyme. Add the lima beans and stir so they are under the liquid.
- Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 45 minutes. Allow the pot to natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure. Remove the lid carefully. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings as needed.
- While the soup is pressure cooking, thinly slice the remaining celery stalk and 2 carrots.
- Remove the ham bone and set it on a cutting board. Add in the sliced vegetables and turn on the sear/sauté on high to cook the celery and carrots.
- When the ham bone is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and chop it into bite size pieces. Return the ham to the pot. Serve and Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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