White Beans and Ham with Fennel and Dill

These stewed white beans and ham are full of flavor from the fennel, potato and dill, making a really affordable one pot meal.

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A hammered stainless steel saute pan with white beans and ham inside and a wooden spoon sticking out.

Cheap and Easy One Pot Meal

If you are looking for a meal that won’t break the bank, but is delicious, satisfying and filling, I’m pretty sure this white beans and ham with fennel and dill is going to fit the bill perfectly. It can be made with leftover ham if you have any, but a ham steak or deli ham works well too. I like to use dried beans, but canned beans will work in a pinch. Cheap, easy and versatile. That’s a winner.

A bowl of white beans on a cutting board with vegetables behind it.

What Beans to Use

White beans is a general term that refers to any variety of white bean that you like. It could be Great Northern beans (pictured above), navy beans, cannellini beans, or lima beans. While some people like to soak their beans ahead of time, that really just cuts down on the cooking time and is not necessary if you’re willing to cook them for a little longer. The one exception is if the dried beans you are using are really old – then they will take much longer whether you soak them or not. I cook the beans in water, with big chunks of celery and carrot, a halved onion and some bay leaves. All the big pieces make it easy to remove them once the beans have cooked. What you end up with is delicious beans AND bean liquor, which you’ll use in this recipe. If canned beans are what you have, then drain and rinse the beans and just use a little extra water instead of the bean liquor.

Fennel, onion and potato being chopped on a cutting board with some fresh dill in the background.

How to Cut Fennel

Fennel is a delicious vegetable with a licorice flavor. It is made up of a series of leaves stemming from a core – much like an onion. So, when you’re trying to dice fennel, dice it just as you would an onion. See more about how to cut fennel here

Fresh dill being chopped on a cutting board.

Fresh Burst of Dill

I love the dill in this recipe. For me, it really turns the dish into something interesting. I have a rule about using fresh herbs in cooking: add as much of the fresh herbs as you think you need… and then add more! The recipe calls for ¼ cup of fresh dill, which is a minimum. Don’t guess – measure it. Taste it. And then add more if you like it.

Hands serving white beans and ham into green ceramic bowls.

How to Serve White Beans and Ham

This one pot meal is perfect with just some greens tossed in a vinaigrette and a chunk of bread to sop up the liquid at the end. It’s a great meal to serve when you have people arriving home at different times since it holds well on the stovetop. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It will continue to get thicker as it sits, but you can dilute it with a little water or chicken stock.

Two green bowls with white beans and ham inside with a hammered stainless steel sauté pan in the back ground.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Cut Fennel

Fennel is a vegetable that often baffles the home cook. It has a bulb at the bottom, several stalks protruding...View Technique

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White Beans with Ham, Fennel and Dill

  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 1 h 45 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 55 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 cup dried white beans
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery divided
  • 1 onion divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • ½ bulb fennel
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes diced ½-inch
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth
  • 8 ounces ham diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh dill chopped


  1. Put the beans in a large stockpot and cover with 2 inches of water. Cut the carrots and 1 rib of celery in half and add that to the pot. Add ½ an onion to the pot, along with the 2 bay leaves and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Continue to boil vigorously for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook for 1 hour. Check the beans for doneness and season with salt to taste. Leave the beans in their cooking liquid.
  2. Pre-heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Dice the remaining half an onion. Add the olive oil and butter to the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, fennel and potatoes until the onion starts to soften – about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits off the bottom. Add the ham, chicken stock and beans to the sauté pan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, adding up to 1 cup of the bean liquor in order to keep the beans almost submerged.
  4. When the potatoes and beans are tender, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh dill. Serve in bowls with a side salad or a piece of crusty bread.
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