Navy Bean Soup features navy beans, ham, vegetables and herbs in cozy, chunky and hearty soup. It is flavorful, healthy and filling, making a satisfying one-pot meal on a cold day.
It is also a great way to use up leftover ham or ham bone – two key ingredients that are responsible for bringing a whole lot of amazing flavors to our soup.
Check out more cozy soup favorites using leftovers on the blog, such as Mashed Potato Soup (using leftover mashed potatoes), Turkey Stew (using leftover turkey), and Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup (leftover chicken).
Navy Bean and Ham Soup
Navy Bean Soup is such a cozy and comforting homemade soup that is also budget-friendly, healthy and super delicious.
It is a chunky soup with a clear broth, loaded with soft navy beans, ham, carrots, celery, tomatoes, herbs and spices. The broth is ham and tomato based, so be prepared for big beautiful flavors.
For our navy bean soup recipe, the beans soft but still intact, and the soup is fairly light and not creamy. We are careful not to overcook the beans so that they are not overly mushy to a point where they thicken the soup.
If you do want a thicker soup with mushier beans, cook navy bean soup for 30 minutes longer than what the recipe calls for, or use an immersion blender to blender up the beans slightly at the end.
A heads up: we are using dry, uncooked navy beans to make our navy bean soup. Therefore, you’ll want to soak it to soften beforehand, or use the fast soak method where we boil and soak the beans in hot water just an hour before hand. Regardless, plan accordingly to allow for soak time.
We love making navy bean soup to use up leftover ham and ham bone, but we also love to make it whenever we want a simple, delicious and cozy soup for dinner….and it doesn’t hurt that we will also have leftovers we can eat for days because navy bean soup reheats so well.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make navy bean soup:
- Navy beans – also called Boston beans or pea beans. They are native to America and are packed with nutrients. We are using dry, uncooked navy beans – make sure to factor in extra time to soak them in water before cooking with them.
- Onion – onions add a savory flavor to navy bean soup – not to mention the wonderful smell they create while being sautéd!
- Carrot – carrots not only add a touch of sweetness to the soup, they also add more nutrients.
- Celery – celery has a mild flavor that helps to balance out all of the flavors in the soup.
- Garlic – when cooked, garlic has a soft, buttery flavor. It is also a lovely aromatic. Avoid substituting with garlic powder. Fresh garlic brings the best flavor to navy bean and ham soup.
- Ham – this recipe showcases ham and the amazing flavor it brings. Use fresh or leftover ham, and cubed them in small pieces. This is a great way to repurpose leftover ham from Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving dinner.
- Ham Hock – or ham bone. Use leftover ham bone from a bone-in ham, or get ham hock from the store. This is the key contribution of flavor to the navy bean soup – do not omit this! It will also add nutrients to the soup.
- Chicken broth – chicken broth or chicken bone broth (more nourishment) have a mild flavor and compliments ham so well. Beef broth, bone broth or vegetable broth can be used as a substitute in a pinch. Here is a chicken broth and bone broth recipe if you choose to make it from scratch.
- Diced tomatoes – tomatoes add a really nice pop of flavor to the soup – don’t omit this!
- Herbs – we are using bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs add such a depth of flavor to the soup. Bay leaves are not edible; so, make sure to scoop them out before serving.
- Salt & Pepper – salt is optional. Ham is usually already very salty. Be sure to taste the soup before adding more salt and pepper.
How to Make it
Let’s make this delicious navy bean and ham soup…I think you are going to love how easy it comes together!
This recipe is incredible easy and low touch, but be sure to build in time for to soak the navy beans prior to cooking the soup.
Soak Navy Beans
You’ll want to do this 1 hour + prior to cooking navy bean soup. If beans are not soaked long enough, it will come out hard at the end.
We are going to use the fast soak method to soak our navy beans.
Start by filling a large pot with water and bring to a boil, then add navy beans and boil for 3 minutes. Switch off heat and let navy beans sit in the hot water for ~1 hour.
Drain water from the beans and set aside.
Cook Soup on Stovetop
Start by heating olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven that is at least 6 qt.
Saute chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and celery.
Once the vegetables are aromatic, add chicken broth, as well as herbs and spices.
Add ham and ham hock, then bring everything to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, add beans back into the pot as well as the diced tomatoes.
Bring to a boil again, and then lower heat to low/medium low.
Cover pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 1 hour, or until the beans soften to your liking.
To make navy beans mushier and get the soup on the thicker side, cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, or use an immersion blender to slightly blend up the soup.
When done, taste navy bean soup, and add salt (optional) and black pepper.
I’ve never needed to add more salt to my navy bean soup because the ham usually salt the soup really well, but this will be different depending on the type of broth and ham you use – so taste and adjust accordingly.
Remove ham hock (ham bone) and bay leaves before serving.
Garnish navy bean soup with some parsley if you’d like (totally optional), and serve with some crusty bread (optional as well, but highly highly recommended).
Navy bean soup is a one-pot meal that is perfect for a cold day. We love making this during the Fall and winter months, and especially during the holidays after serving a large ham.
It is a simple soup that boast big bold flavors, thanks to the delicious ham and ham bone/ ham hock!.
Nothing produces more depth in flavor in soups than cooking soup using meat bone of any sorts! And that’s true for any soup.
This recipe makes a big batch of navy bean soup. To store leftovers, bring navy bean and ham soup to cool in room temperature, then store in air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in freezer for up to 2 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can do that instead of boiling the beans and letting it sit in hot water for 1 hour. Technically, this 1 hour soaking method is a fast soak method. Or, follow the package instructions on how to go about soaking the beans.
Ham hock and ham bone comes from different parts of the pig. Ham hock is basically pork knuckle while ham bone typically comes from the leg. The idea is to use some sort of bone to bring flavors to navy bean soup, so either one works. You can use ham bone from a leftover bone-in ham, or buy ham hock from the grocery stores at a very reasonable price.
It freezes very well. See storage instructions above for more detailed freezing instructions.
Wash and rise beans in cold water. Using the ‘saute’ setting, saute garlic, onions, carrots, and celery until fragrant. Add chicken broth, dried navy beans (no soaking needed), diced tomatoes, ham hock, ham, and herbs. Cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Naturally release pressure for 20 minutes, then manually release remaining pressure.
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More Soup Recipes We Love
- Healthy Turkey Chili
- Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Instant Pot Wonton Soup
- Ground Beef Vegetable Soup
- Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
- Stovetop Beef Stew
Navy Bean Soup
- 1 lb navy beans dry
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups ham diced
- 1 ham hock
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt to taste, optional
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- To begin, soften the beans. Place beans in a heavy bottomed pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let soak for 1 hour.
- After soaking, drain the beans and set aside.
- In a large pot or cast iron, add olive oil and turn heat to medium. Once oil is heated, saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.
- Once the vegetables are aromatic, add ham, ham hock, and chicken broth.
- Toss in bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil.
- Add the beans back into the pot as well as the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil again, then cover and cook under low heat for one hour.
- Soup is ready once the beans are soft and fully cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may not need salt if soup is already salty.
- Remove the ham hock and bay leaves. Serve and enjoy!