This Navy Bean Soup is a simple, hearty, and flavorful bean soup recipe filled with leftover ham and tender cooked navy beans. Perfect for lunch or dinner with a side of buttery bread.
Navy Bean and Ham Soup
This is one of my favorite bean soup recipes. I love it for its simplicity and resourcefulness. It’s hearty and nutritious, making it the perfect choice for a satisfying lunch or comforting dinner.
Versatile enough that it would welcome other veggies like carrots, celery, or even a little kale, I find that all of that isn’t necessary. Navy bean soup is best left simple. A little onion and garlic are all you need to compliment the beans and ham.
This recipe, as you may expect, calls for navy beans. They’re small white beans available pretty much everywhere. If you can’t find them, great northern beans or cannellini beans will also work.
Native to the Americas, navy beans got their name from doing many tours overseas for troops throughout the 20th century.
They’re used in all kinds of cooking and recipes. In fact, nearly all canned baked beans are made using navy beans! They’re just covered in so much brown sugar and spices that you can’t see the shiny white coat underneath.
How to Make Navy Bean Soup
- Soak the dried beans overnight.
- Soften the onion in a large pot or Dutch oven with a glug of olive oil. Stir in the garlic, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Careful not to add too much salt as ham is already pretty salty.
- Add the soaked beans, ham bone, ham scraps, and about 10 cups of water.
- Simmer for at least 1-2 hours, or until the beans are very soft.
- Remove the bone from the pot and allow it to cool. Then use a knife or fork to trim away any extra meat left on the bone.
- Season with additional salt and pepper or fresh herbs, to taste. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese or freshly cracked black pepper, if desired.
Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup
You can also make this recipe in your slow cooker. Add all ingredients to a large crockpot and cook on low for at least 8 hours or on high heat for 4-6 hours.
- You may also use canned beans. A 1-lb bag of dry beans has approximately 2 cups of beans. This is the equivalent of 4 (15-ounce) cans of beans. Remember to strain and rinse the beans before adding them to the soup pot. Also, reduce the amount of water from 10 cups to 6-8 cups.
- If you forget to soak your beans overnight, you can “quick-soak” them by placing them in a large pot or saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt and 8 cups of water (per 1 pound of beans). Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and allow them to soak for about an hour. This will add an additional hour to your overall cook time. Drain and rinse before cooking.
- No ham bone? No problem. You can find them for sale at many grocery stores or simply as your local butcher. If you need extra meat, you can also find ham meat sold separately or brown pork belly.
- To thicken your soup (optional), mash approximately 1/4 cup of cooked beans in a small bowl into a thick puree/ paste. Add to the broth and give it a good stir to dissolve.
Looking for more easy and delicious soup recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Thai Chicken Curry Noodle Soup Recipe
- Instant Pot Black Bean Soup Recipe
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup Recipe
- Ham and Bean Soup Recipe (Crock Pot)
- Easy Black Bean Soup Recipe
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Split Pea Soup with Ham (Snert)
Have you tried making this Navy Bean Soup Recipe with Ham?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Navy Bean Soup with Ham
- 1 lb dried navy beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion - diced
- 8 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper - to season
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ham bone - with scraps (see notes)
- 8-12 cups water - or half water half low-sodium chicken broth
- Soak your beans overnight. Transfer the dried beans to a large bowl and add water so that it is covered by approximately 3 inches. Allow the beans to soak overnight or up to 24 hours (see notes below for the "quick-soak" option).
- Add the olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent (about 6-8 minutes). Add the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the bay leaf, drained beans, ham bone, ham scraps, and 10 cups of water (you can add more if needed). Bring to a boil then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for at least 1-2 hours, or until the beans are very soft.
- Remove the bone and allow it to cool slightly. Use a fork or knife to remove any additional meat from the ham bone. Discard the bone.
- Serve garnished with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Careful not to add too much salt until the end of cooking as ham is naturally very salty.
- If you forget to soak your beans overnight, you can "quick-soak" them by placing them in a large pot or saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt and 8 cups of water (per 1 pound of beans). Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and allow them to soak for about an hour. Drain and rinse before cooking.
- If you don't have a ham bone or leftover ham to use for this soup, you may replace it with thick-cut bacon, pork belly, or ham sold at the grocery store. You may also find smoked ham hocks for sale also.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)