Navy bean soup is one of those dishes that is both comforting and nutritious. It used to be served regularly on navy ships, which is where its name comes from. The soup is chock full of flavorful ingredients to make it complex and so yummy.
You can make it with or without ham, and then you can feel free to add other kinds of beans to it, if you want to make something like three bean soup or a similar dish.
The protein levels are high with this soup, so it’s a great lunch dish to help keep you going throughout the day. It can be made as creamy and smooth as you like. You decide on the level of creaminess you want by pureeing more or less of the beans for the soup. We’ll get to when you do that in the navy bean soup recipe below.
How to Cook Navy Bean Soup
- 1 pound of Navy beans, rinsed, drained, and picked through
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 1 chopped carrot
- 10 sprigs of parsley
- 2 smoked ham hocks (about a pound and a half)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 8 cups of water
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Pour the beans into a saucepan and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Cook until the water is boiling and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and cover. Allow it to sit to the side for an hour.
- Then drain off the liquid and keep what you drained.
- Using kitchen twine, tie the bay leaf, thyme, and parsley together.
- Mix the beans, hocks, herb bundle, garlic, and onion in a large pot and add in the 8 cups of water. Heat the pot until it the water starts to boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- After the soup has been cooking for an hour, add in the carrots and then cook for an additional half hour or so, until the beans and ham are fully tender.
- Take the heat off and pull the hocks out. Allow them to cool and take the meat off, getting rid of the skin, fat, and bones. The meat can then be cut into small cubes.
- Take the herb bundle out and trash it.
- Take out three cups of beans and a little of the soup liquid and pour into the blender. Puree and then stir in the puree and meat to the pot of soup. (Puree all of the beans if you want the soup to turn out smoother).
- Heat the soup and add salt, pepper, and other seasonings to flavor.
This is the classic method for how to make navy bean soup with ham, but you can feel free to leave the ham out entirely, if you like.
How to Thicken Navy Bean Soup
For a thicker soup, you can do one of several different things. You could puree a lot of the beans, and that will thicken the soup more. You could also add some cornstarch slurry to the soup, which is a mixture of water and cornstarch. Be sure to mix the water and cornstarch before adding them to the soup.
Try adding a tablespoon of cornstarch at a time, mixing that into a slurry and then adding it to the soup. See how much it thickens the soup before adding any more, as it is easy to overthicken with this method.
How to Make Navy Bean Soup in a Crock Pot
You could make this soup in a crock pot as well, though it takes a lot longer. This method is basically one where you pour all of your ingredients into the crock pot, turn it on and cover and leave the soup to cook on its own. There isn’t much need to interfere with it or keep an eye on it while it cooks.
Feel free to se the same recipe as what I gave you above, or make some tweaks as you like to suit your preferences. The cooking method will be a bit different, though.
- Pour all of the ingredients into the crockpot.
- Cover the beans generously with water (2 inches or so of extra water coverage)
- Cook on high heat for 5-6 hours, or use low heat and cook for 8-10 hours.
- Take the ham hock out and get rid of the bones and fat. Then, return the ham meat to the soup and serve.
How to Make Navy Bean Soup with Ham Bone
You don’t have to use ham hocks for this soup. You could opt for a ham bone instead. The concept is the same. You will need to add it with the rest of the ingredients as the soup cooks. Then, after cooking everything for an hour or two, you can take the ham bone out carefully and pull off the meat. You should let it cool before you try to take the meat off, so you don’t burn yourself. Then, you can cut up the meat into small pieces and add them back into the soup.
How to Make Navy Bean Soup with Canned Beans or Dry Beans
You can use canned beans for a faster cook time, but you might prefer to work with dry beans. If you are going to use beans that have not been soaked or cooked already, then you need to let them soak for a few hours. It’s best to just let them soak overnight to save yourself some hassle. Then, you can put everything into the crockpot first thing in the morning and have navy bean soup ready by either lunch or dinner time, depending on the setting you used on the crockpot.
How to Make Vegetarian Navy Bean Soup
For a vegetarian version, you can just leave the ham out. Feel free to add mushrooms or soya chunks to the soup to give it the same texture, though. These make a good substitute for ham.