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.)
ALICIA A SNYDER says
I’M MAKING THIS TODAY I LOVE CELERY IN MINE IT TASTES GREAT!
Looking forward to making this! Do you know if this soup will freeze well?
Jessica Randhawa says
While I have not tried it, I don’t see why not 🙂
Cooked beans don’t freeze well. They rupture. Still will taste great!
Great. I tweeked it though and boiled the ham bone, took off the meat and added it and all the broth in. I also put in about a cup of the original juice from the ham. I didn’t put in chicken broth. I used the quick soak method and rinsed the beans twice. I used bottled spices. It was delicious.
Jennifer LeRoy says
I only used a little salt but ended up too salty with both the chicken broth (I use better than bouillon) and the leftover spiral ham I had.
Other than a tad too salty, this was great! I used dried herbs (unfortunately didn’t have thyme!!) and used my instant pot. If you do this, just cook it maybe 5 min longer than the pre-set beans setting calls for to ensure your beans are tender!
Hi – I did not have the fresh spices, so I subbed out 1 Tbsp for those. I did have some fresh garlic but not near enough. I would like to see this using canned spices instead. To get fresh herbs requires that the recipe align with my cooking, and that doesn’t happen.
I am making this for weekend but I don’t have ham on hand so using polish sausage. Also good adding cumin. Thanks for recipe
How much ham should I add? I didn’t have a bone so I bought a spiral cut ham with no bones and I’m cooking it in the oven right now but wondering how much I need to chop up for the soup? Thank you so much can’t wait to try this recipe! So simple!
Jessica Randhawa says
I would say a half pound to a pound, depending on how much ham you want in the soup 🙂
Jim Nyers says
To thicken soup I use a can of refried beans. Any brand works and it dissolves nicely in the soup leaving it smooth and offering a good bean flavor.
When soaking navy beans, can they be left on the counter soaking for 24 hours or fridge?
Jessica Randhawa says
On the countertop covered or in the fridge are both fine 🙂
There is no reason to soak any beans for soup unless you are trying to hurry it. Black beans have the same taste as navy and are a great alternative. I like to brown the onion and garlic before adding the rest. Also, carrots are a must for me. Happy cooking!
Most of the skins come off during the heat soak. The skins are difficult for some people to digest and can also cause uncomfortable stomach issues.
I use canned beans. The cost difference vs. hours to prep and soak makes this a, um.. no beaner.
Denise Wilmot says
Thanks for this. loved the idea to quick soak the peas. I added some bouillon and other spices and it was awesome.
Kathryn Lee says
Going to try this recipe tonight!! Could I use smoked ham hock as a sub?
Jessica Randhawa says
Yup – that should be fine 🙂
It’s delicious but needed a little zing. I added a small sliver of Parmesan rind. Any other suggestions?
Jessica Randhawa says
I also love adding shredded cheeses to all my hearty soup recipes 🙂
Try Parmesan. It really adds something special. The older crystallized parm is the best.
Red wine or apple cider vinegar ! Gives that zing one looks for!
Debbie Greig says
Try a little vinegar before serving
Ashli Scollard says
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