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Homemade navy bean soup is filled with bite-size ham and veggies for a flavor-packed soup to enjoy year-round!
A Classic Soup
It’s no secret that we LOVE soup! We eat it pretty much all year long.
This navy bean soup is a family favorite and one I’ve been eating for years. Growing up my mom would make a delicious Ham for special holidays and then make this tasty soup with the leftovers!
So for me, this soup is completely nostalgic and I love making it for my kids! Soaking the beans does take some planning ahead, but in a pinch canned beans can also be used.
Either way, this is a simple recipe that is sure to be a family favorite!
How to Make Navy Bean Soup
BEANS. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water 3-4 inches above the beans. Soak for at least 4-6 hours.
In a large pot over medium heat, combine the beans and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. (Drain the beans before adding them to the pot.)
VEGGIES. While beans are simmering, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Add this mixture to your pot.
BACON. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, sauté bacon for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain grease and add to the pot.
SEASONING. Add remaining ingredients (chopped ham, diced tomatoes, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, garlic powder, water, garlic salt, pepper, and bay leaf).
SIMMER + SERVE! Continue to simmer the soup over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the beans are tender and the soup has thickened. This should take about 45-60 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Slow Cooker Directions
Soak the beans overnight, drain, and add them to the slow cooker along with the broth. Sauté the aromatics and cook the bacon. Add them along with the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.
Cook on LOW heat for 7-8 hrs or HIGH heat for 3-4 hrs.
Prepping beans properly, and using the best ingredients will create the best navy bean soup recipe!
Navy beans. The main ingredient for this soup is the navy bean. The recipe calls for 16 ounces of dried navy beans. First, sort through and discard any broken or discolored beans.
Next, the beans need to be soaked to soften and avoid crunchy beans. After the beans have soaked in the water, rinse them off and they are ready to be used in the recipe.
- Overnight soak: The recipe instructs you to cover the beans with 3-4 inches of cold water. Allow them to soak for at least 4-6 hours, but 8-10 hours is best. Do not exceed 12 hours.
- Quick soak: Prepare beans in 1-2 hours with the quick cook method. Add 6 cups of water and the dried beans to a pot. Bring it to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for 1-2 hours. (If the beans are old this quick method won’t work well.)
Ham. This is a great way to use up leftover ham. If you have a cooked leftover ham bone or ham hock, remove the meat from the bone before chopping it up. You can also purchase a package of cubed ham.
To produce the very best old fashioned navy bean soup there are a few common tips to keep in mind.
- Use a heavy-bottomed pot. This will help cook the soup evenly and keep spots from scorching.
- Sauté the aromatics. This will add a depth of flavor as well as soften the taste and texture of some of the more pronounced ingredients like the garlic.
- Use stock instead of broth. Stock is a little more savory, a bit thicker, and includes a higher amount of fat and more nutrients than broth. Bone broth is a type of beef stock and can also be used.
- Cut bite-size veggies that are similar in size. This will make it easier to eat as well as ensure that the pieces are all evenly cooked.
- Tender veggies. Add tender vegetables, like peas, corn, and herbs, later in the cooking time so that they don’t get mushy.
- Taste test before serving. After the soup has had time to simmer and meld all the flavors give it another taste. Add any final flavors like salt, pepper, herbs, or citrus that will take your soup from good to great.
Soup is pretty forgiving and you can easily adjust the taste and texture to your preferences.
- Add crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick.
- Add diced onions along with the other aromatics.
- Navy beans are small white beans and can be replaced with great northern beans or cannellini beans.
- Brighten the soup with some lime or lemon juice.
- Top the soup with parmesan cheese, sour cream, or cooked bacon crumbles.
- Thicken the soup by adding 1 cup of the soup to a blender or food processor. After blending, stir it back into the soup. You can also use an immersion blender to puree some of the soup.
- Thin the soup by adding more chicken stock or water.
- Serve the soup up in a Bread Bowl!
Prep ahead of time. Prep the carrots and celery when you place the beans in the water to soak. Keep them in separate containers in the fridge.
STORE. Whether you want to make this navy bean and ham soup ahead of time and store it for later, or you have leftovers, it stores well in both the fridge and the freezer.
In either case, let the soup cool before pouring it into airtight containers. It can last for 5 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Reheat. Let the navy bean soup with ham thaw if needed and reheat it on the stovetop. Smaller portions can be reheated in the microwave.
If you use dried navy beans, they will need to be soaked before adding them to the soup. If you don’t have time you can use an equal amount of canned navy beans instead.
You can use 3 (15oz) cans of navy beans in place of the 16 oz of dried navy beans in this recipe. Drain the canned beans and rinse. Add the beans, aromatics, and other ingredients to the broth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
If you have really old beans they can be tougher to soften. Skip the quick method and soak them overnight. Also, hard water can inhibit the beans from soaking water so use filtered or distilled water to soak them in. Finally, make sure you provide enough time for the soup to simmer and the beans to become tender.
For more soup recipes, try:
Navy Bean Soup Recipe
- 1 (16-ounce) package dried navy beans cleaned and sorted
- water to cover
- 6 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 carrots chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- ½ pound bacon chopped
- ½ pound ham chopped
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water 3-4 inches above the beans. Soak for at least 4-6 hours.
- In a large pot over medium heat, combine the beans and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. (Drain the beans before adding them to the pot.)
- While beans are simmering, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for 10 minutes. Add this to your pot.
- In the same skillet over medium-high heat, saute bacon for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain grease and add to the pot.
- Add remaining ingredients (chopped ham, diced tomatoes, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, garlic powder, water, garlic salt, pepper, and bay leaf.
- Continue to simmer the soup over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the beans are tender and the soup has thickened. This should take about 45-60 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.