Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham

4.41 from 5 votes
8 hours 20 minutes
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Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham is the perfect way to make black bean soup.  My tips are guaranteed to get you tender beans every time!

Photo of Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham in blue bowl garnished with lime wedges, cilantro and avocado.

If your life has been as chaotic as ours lately, you’ll love how simple yet delicious this Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham is!

Simply combine everything in a slow cooker and let it cook away!  Now, I do realize I’ve been on somewhat of a black bean kick lately, but I love them and the cold months are when I’m going to do the most with them.

Why beans won’t soften:

Let’s talk about dried beans first.  Have you ever been frustrated about why your dried beans WILL NOT get soft in your recipe no matter how long you cook them?

Been there, my friend.

There are three reasons your beans will not soften:

  • Age of the beans.  In other words, they’re old, expired… they’re history!  Get rid of old beans or recycle them into pie weights.
  • Acid or alcohol is present.
  • Salt is present.

Tips for soaking beans:

Soaking beans is optional for this recipe.  However:

  • When time allows, I soak beans overnight in the refrigerator then discard the water.
  • The other option is a “quick soak.”  All that means is to place the beans in a saucepan of water, bring it to a boil, shut off the heat, cover and let stand for an hour.  Afterward, discard the water.
  • If you don’t soak beans, they’ll take a little longer to cook.  An advantage to soaking is it reduces the digestive issues beans can create.  (Ahem.)  The epazote in this recipe is believed by ancient cultures to help with that, too.  If you can’t find it, simply leave it out and adjust the other seasonings.

How to make Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham:

  • After the soaking or quick soak, combine the beans, vegetables and seasonings (make sure the seasonings don’t contain salt) in plain old water in the slow cooker, cover and let it cook away.

Photo of ingredients for Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham in slow cooker ready to be cooked.

  • When the beans are tender, add cider vinegar for a pop of flavor, roasted chicken base (which is going to make up for not using broth or stock initially), salt and black pepper.
  • Puree with an immersion blender until the soup is semi-smooth.  Or, carefully process half of the soup in a food processor or blender then return it to the slow cooker.
  • Add the ham and a drained and rinsed can of black beans.  I add canned black beans because I like the extra “beaniness” and the added texture.
  • If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water or broth and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Close-up photo of Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham in blue bowl.

That’s it!  An amazing slow cooker black bean soup that’s low labor, high flavor and pure comfort!  Add some fresh Fresno chiles, cilantro, avocado, goat cheese and squeeze of lime!

Photo of Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham with lime juice being squeezed over a bowl of the soup.

For more great slow-cooker soups, be sure to try my:

For all my soup recipes, find them all here!  Soup and Stew Recipes

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Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham in blue bowl garnished with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham

4.41 from 5 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Ham is the perfect way to make black bean soup. My tips are guaranteed to get you tender beans every time!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 269 kcal


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound black beans - soaked overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1 large onion - finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper - finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery - finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder - without salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried epazote - optional
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chicken base
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 package (8-ounce) diced ham - or the equivalent, diced
  • 1 can (15-ounce) black beans - drained and rinsed
  • Sliced Fresno chiles or jalapenos
  • Sliced or diced avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Crumbled goat cheese


  • Combine first 11 ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.
  • Add vinegar, roasted chicken base and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Working in batches, puree half the soup in a food processor blender. Better yet, use an immersion blender to coarsely puree.
  • Add ham and canned black beans. Add additional water if soup is too thick.
  • Serve in bowls garnished with chiles, avocado, cilantro and goat cheese.


FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Place in airtight containers in amounts desired.  Freeze 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.  Reheat on the stovetop or microwave until heated through.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 393mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 4g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.41 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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  1. When I read this recipe I thought that it would be a great dish for a cold, poor weather day. I took the list of ingredients with me when I was out shopping this week on a 60º day here in New York! The forecast for the next day was a much cooler and snowy day. Turns out we got 11.5″ here in Queens. I set up the Slow Cooker with the pre-soaked beans and all the other needed ingredients and went about a day of paperwork and TV watching. Smelling the soup cook for 8 hours is near torture–the aroma is delicious. The soup is certainly the best Black Bean Soup I have ever made and among the best I have ever eaten. Make this soup…I promise you will not be disappointed! Thanx Carol, as with all of your recipes I’ve tried the flavors are perfectly balanced.