Navy Bean Soup
This Navy Bean Soup recipe is hearty, comforting and the best way to use up leftover ham!  It can be made with hambone, chopped ham or even shredded chicken and bacon (like pictured here).  It is loaded with navy beans, ham (or chicken), potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, onions, garlic and chives for complex, rich, satisfying spoonfuls.  This Navy Bean and Ham Soup can be made with dried navy beans or canned navy beans and it can be made on the stove or in the crockpot – I’ve included directions for both; now there is no reason not to enjoy this wonderfully savory, smoky, salty Navy Bean and Ham Soup recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8-10 15minutes
Cook Time
2hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 15minutes
Cook Time
2hours
Navy Bean Soup
Ingredients
  • 1lb. dried white navy beansOR 3 (15 oz.) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8oz. bacon, finely choppedoptional (recommend if using chicken)
  • 1 large onionchopped
  • 1 bulb of fennelchopped
  • 1 1/2cups chopped celery
  • 3 carrotschopped
  • 4-6 garlic clovesminced
  • 114.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes,undrained
  • 2cups Yukon gold potatoeschopped into 1/2” cubes
  • 6cups low sodium chicken broth
  • waterin directions
  • 1tsp EACH ground (dried) mustard, dried parsley
  • 1/2tsp EACH dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, smoked paprika
  • 1/4tsp EACH pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • one meaty ham boneOR 2 1/2 cups chopped ham or shredded chicken
  • 1/4cup finely chopped chives
  • salt to tastewill depend on if using salty ham or chicken
Instructions
DIRECTIONS FOR NAVY BEAN SOUP WITH DRIED BEANS
  1. Add dried beans to a large bowl cover with three inches of water. Soak the beans 8-24 hours (easiest to do overnight). When ready to use, drain beans in a colander, rinse and remove any debris.
  2. Optional: Heat a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, approximately 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot.
  3. If not using bacon, melt 1 tablespoon butter with one tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium heat.
  4. Add onions, fennel, celery and carrots and cook at medium-low until translucent and tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes (we are sweating the vegetables- they will not turn golden). Increase heat to medium high and add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add beans, hambone or chicken/ham, chicken broth, 2 cups of water, diced tomatoes and all seasonings. Bring the soup to a full boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 60 minutes, removing the lid to stir and replacing it occasionally.
  6. After 60 minutes, add potatoes and continue to gently simmer, covered, for an additional 30-60 minutes or until beans and potatoes are tender. Add additional water if it evaporates too much.
  7. Once tender, if using a hambone, remove it from the soup and chop off any ham and add the meat back to the soup.
  8. Add additional water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt to taste (this will depend on how salty your ham is). If using chicken, you will definitely want to add salt. Top with bacon and chives.
DIRECTIONS FOR NAVY SOUP WITH CANNED BEANS
  1. Optional: Heat a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, approximately 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot.
  2. If not using bacon, melt 1 tablespoon butter with one tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, fennel, celery and carrots and cook at medium-low until translucent and tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes (we are sweating the vegetables- they will not turn golden). Increase heat to medium high and add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add hambone or chicken/ham, chicken broth, potatoes, diced tomatoes and all seasonings. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add canned beans and heat through.
  5. Meanwhile, if using a hambone, remove it from the soup and chop off any ham and add the meat back to the soup.
  6. Add additional water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt to taste (this will depend on how salty your ham is). If using chicken, you will definitely want to add salt. Top with bacon and chives.
SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS
  1. Rinse and drain the beans. Remove any debris. There is NO need to soak beans if using the slow cooker.
  2. Add beans and all ingredients EXCEPT bacon to a 6-quart slow cooker including 2 cups of water; stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH 4-5 hours or LOW 7 to 9 hours or until beans are tender.
  4. If using a hambone, remove it from the soup and chop off any ham and add the meat back to the soup.
  5. Optional: Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy, approximately 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Add additional water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt to taste (this will depend on how salty your ham is). If using chicken, you will definitely want to add salt. Top with bacon and chives.
Recipe Notes

Tips for Using Hambone:

  • Start with a meaty hambone. The meat left on the bone will be all that’s left once you remove the bone so don’t trim it too much before using.
  • Remove fat: You will want to scrape off excess fat so your soup isn’t greasy and so no one bites into an unappetizing chewy piece of fat.
  • Rinse hambone. It is important to rinse the hambone to remove:
    • glaze: If you’re using an Easter ham, it likely coated in a sweet glaze. You want to rinse the glaze off so you’re left with pure ham flavor.
    • salt: ham can be incredibly salty. Rinsing off the salt allows you to salt to taste instead of of your soup being too salty.

 How to Soak Dried Navy Beans

  • Pick through beans: make sure you give the beans a good comb through to remove any pebbles or rocks.
  • Soak navy beans: dried beans should be soaked in about 3 inches of water for 8-24 hours.
  • Rapid soak: if you don’t have time to soak your beans for hours, or simply forgot, you can use the rapid soak method which cuts the soaking time down to one hour. To do this, add dried beans to a large saucepan and cover with with triple their volume of cold water. Bring to a boil then set your timer for 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and proceed to let the beans soak in the same pan for one hour.
  • Rinse beans: after the beans have soaked, give them a good rinse in fresh water.
  • Add water: we need to add additional water to the soup when using dried beans because they will soak up water as they cook as opposed to canned beans.

Fennel: I am a huge fennel fan and love it in this Navy Bean Soup. If you’ve never cooked with fennel, please don’t be intimidated. Your should be able to find it in the produce section of your grocery store, if not, specialty produce stores such as Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc. definitely have it.  You will purchase the whole fennel but we are going to use just the bulb, so chop off the fennel stalks at their base where they join the bulb.