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Hearty Navy Bean Soup

My family loves navy bean soup! Beans were a commodity you did not survive without in the '30s. This excellent navy beans and ham soup is a real family favorite of ours and I make it often. —Mildred Lewis, Temple, Texas
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + soaking Cook: 1-3/4 hours
  • Makes
    10 servings (2-1/2 quarts)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (1-1/2 pounds) dried navy beans
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 meaty ham hock or 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced fresh parsley, optional

Directions

  • Rinse and sort beans; soak according to package directions.
  • Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid. Place in a Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes with juice, onion, ham hock, broth, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
  • Add more water if necessary. Remove ham hock and let it stand until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone; discard bone. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces; set aside. (For a thicker soup, cool slightly, then puree beans in a food processor or blender and return to pan.) Return ham to soup and heat through. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Navy Bean Soup Tips

How do you thicken navy bean soup?

To thicken navy bean soup, let it cool slightly, then transfer the beans in a food processor or blender to puree. Return mixture back to the soup and stir to combine.

Why is it called navy bean soup?

It's history stems from being served to members of the Navy during World War II. The small, white, economical bean provided a filling alternative during food rationing. Its history alone makes it one of the more interesting types of soup.

Are Great Northern beans the same as navy beans?

No. They are similar, but different: Both are white beans, but navy beans are smaller in size and require long, slow cooking. Navy beans are one of the central ingredients in canned pork and beans, though we love to use them in all different navy bean recipes. Research contributed by Rashanda Cobbins, Taste of Home Food Editor
Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 245 calories, 2g fat (0 saturated fat), 8mg cholesterol, 352mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 16g fiber), 18g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 2 lean meat.

Reviews

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Average Rating:
  • scotland1
    Sep 26, 2020

    HAD THIS SOUP BEFORE. MY GO TO RECIPE. YUMMY.

  • saguarogirl
    May 3, 2020

    Enjoyed this soup: it came together quickly (the time consuming part was chopping the onion and a piece of leftover ham-about 1 1/2 c). Because of the current quarantine, I used what I had on hand instead of the navy beans: 2 cans cannellini and 1 can garbanzos. For more flavor, used all low sodium chicken bone broth. Next time will add some garlic, as a sprinkle of garlic powder added at table took it over the top. Thanks Mildred for posting this.

  • Teri
    Apr 10, 2020

    I am not a fan of ham or any other smoked meats so I made this vegetarian-style. I love beans and I do not soak my dried beans. Of course, I clean them, but never soak. I also added celery, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Delicious!

  • Jerry
    Feb 22, 2020

    I am a TOH recipe adaptor for steam pressure cooker canning: I've used this recipe three times now canning a total 42 pints of navy bean soup. I cold pack 16 jars distributing eavenly the ingredients into the jars. I use diced cooked ham rather than the ham hock adding a drop of hickory smoke into each jar. I use dehydrated ingredients: onion, tomato, sometimes carrots and celery. I elinate the salt and use dry beans (picked through for foreign matter). If the jars look "sparse", I'll add more vegetables. I add spices to taste. Once all the ingredients are in the jars, I top off each with low sodium chicken broth leaving 1 inch head space: remove air bubbles and check to be sure each jar is filled to leave 1 inch head space. Then I add the lids and bands and load the jars into the pressure cooker. I process the jars following pressure canning protocol for 70 minutes at 10 psi. The soup comes out delicious! When reheating, I'll add more chicken bouillon as needed. When I take my soup to 'work', everyone comments on the aroma wanting to know how I made it. TOH is my go to site for recipes to adapt to steam pressure canning recipes.

  • rfrd
    Feb 19, 2020

    FYI No beans ever need to be soaked. It's recommended they should be rinsed and reviewed to make sure they don't have debris especially rocks in them. Although a soaked bean will cook faster if one is planning to place in a pressure cooker one would not need this step. If one desires to sweat aromatics think onions, celery, garlic then there is also no need to add anything other than water for liquid as one would be creating their own flavor and thus not adding unneeded sodium found in most broth

  • Beverly
    Feb 15, 2020

    I can’t believe no one uses vinegar in their recipe. I soak my beans overnight then add only water, ham bone plus generous portion of vinegar. You can use carrots but I don’t like them. I mash mine during cooking with a potato masher and cook until soft - probably about 3 hours or so.

  • Marian
    Feb 15, 2020

    !There is never a good reason to discard clean fresh dried bean ‘soaking’ broth. It is nutrient rich- use as base for soup!

  • James
    Feb 15, 2020

    Looks good. The only thing I would do when I try this one is to use a smoked ham hock or two. This one's on the list.

  • Barbara
    Feb 15, 2020

    Can the recipe used in a slow cooker? Do I have to adjust any of the ingredients?

  • eminsol
    Feb 15, 2020

    My great grandmother made her soup this way but added carrots and celery. She was born in the late 1800's. I've had navy bean without tomatoes, carrots and celery but I think that was due to the availability of ingredients...perhaps those canned goods already used up in pantry.