Navy Bean Soup

Navy Bean Soup

This navy bean soup is made with smoked ham shanks, vegetables and spices. It’s a hearty and delicious soup the whole family will enjoy.

Navy bean soup served in a black bowl, with a red and white cloth napkin and spoon on the side.

 

Like with many bean soups, you can’t rush the process, so make this navy bean soup on a leisurely afternoon. Your time will be rewarded with a big pot of soup that will feed your body and soul!

 

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Navy Beans
  • 1 pound Smoked Ham Shank, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 2 Celery Ribs, diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt, to taste

The ingredients for the navy bean soup arranged on a wood cutting board.

 

Sort the beans

Sorting is the process of going through beans and removing substandard beans and anything that doesn’t belong. Sometimes foreign objects (stones, debris, etc.) inadvertently get packaged with the beans.

 

To sort the navy beans, pour them on a large, flat surface. A sheet pan, large cutting board, or kitchen towel on the counter will all work well. Arrange the beans so they’re in a single layer and pick through them. Remove any foreign objects (like small stones and twigs), broken, misshaped or oddly colored beans.

 

Don’t skip this step; there are always a few beans that are not up to par. Plus, I’ve found stones and tiny twigs in dry beans on more than one occasion.

Dry navy beans being sorted on a wood cutting board.

 

Add the beans to a colander, rinse them with cold water and drain.

 

Do the beans need to be soaked before cooking?

There’s debate on whether beans need to be soaked. Some claim soaking doesn’t make a difference; others insist they’ll take forever to cook if not soaked. Me, I split the difference and use a quick soak method. It has always worked really well.

 

That said, I do recommend soaking the beans using either the overnight or quick soak method. Soaking the beans hydrates them and I like having that head start.

 

Overnight soaking method

Add the beans to a pot. Cover the beans with 4-6 cups of water. Let them soak overnight. Drain the water completely and rinse the beans well with fresh, cold water.

 

Quick soaking method

(My preferred method) Add the beans and 6-8 cups of water to a large pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes. Take the pot off the heat, cover and allow them to soak for one hour. Then, drain and rinse the beans.

 

How long to cook Navy Beans?

Cooking times vary when making fresh beans. The cooking time will depend on the freshness and quality of the beans. For any bean recipe, the best we can do is offer an estimated cooking time. Sometimes an hour is enough. Sometimes, the beans need to cook longer.

 

When cooking with fresh beans, follow the recipe cooking time and taste a couple of beans for doneness. If they’re still firm, then cook for 15 minutes at a time, tasting a couple of beans in between until they reach the desired tenderness.

 

Prep work

Other than sorting and soaking the beans, there is some prep work involved with this from-scratch navy bean soup. If you’re using the quick soak method, do the prep while you wait.

  • Start with rinsing the ham shanks with cold water and pat them dry.
  • Dice the onions, carrots and celery. They’re all going into the pot at the same time so keep them in the same bowl.
  • Mince the garlic.
  • Measure out the tomato paste, oregano, paprika and black pepper.

 

We keep all our prepped ingredients in glass nesting bowls. They keep everything organized, keeping cooking stress free. Now we’re ready to cook!

The ingredients for the navy bean soup, prepped and arranged in glass bowls.

 

Create a flavor base

The secret to making delicious soup is to start with a flavor base. Different recipes will use different ingredients, but the concept remains the same, cooking vegetables and spices gently in oil/fat until they start to soften. Then you build the soup from there.

 

Examples of flavor bases include sofrito – really common in Cuban recipes and mirepoix – a combination of onions, carrots and celery that’s French in origin. That’s what we’re starting with here.

 

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Diced onions, carrots and celery being cooked in olive oil in a large pot.

 

Next, add the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, paprika and black pepper, cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Diced onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and spices combined and being cooked in a large pot.

 

Finish the soup

Add the smoked ham shank, navy beans, chicken broth, water, and the bay leaf to the pot and stir well. Raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil; it will take about 6-8 minutes. Then, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook the soup for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Keep the soup at a simmer/gentle boil. If it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit. Adjust the heat as necessary.

 

Remove the smoked ham shank from the pot onto a cutting board or plate (use tongs to make this easy). Cover the soup and continue cooking.

 

When the smoked ham shank is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and any fatty pieces. Chop the meat and return it to the pot.

 

Continue cooking the navy bean soup for another 15 minutes. Taste a couple of beans; if they are tender, the soup is done.

 

If the beans are still a little firm, cover and continue cooking. Check the beans every 15 minutes or so, until they reach the desired tenderness. As the soup thickens, stir more often so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

 

Use tongs to fish out the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Taste the soup and add salt if needed and stir. As a reference, we added ¾ teaspoon to ours.

 

Serve the navy bean soup with a nice piece of crusty bread or a side of white or brown rice, if desired.

Navy bean soup served in a black bowl, with a red and white cloth napkin and spoon on the side.

 

How to thicken bean soups?

If your navy bean soup is not thickening, there’s an easy fix for that. By the way, this thickening method works really well with other bean soups too.

  • First, uncover the pot and let the soup continue simmering for a few minutes. Some of the liquid will cook out and this will help the soup start to thicken.
  • Then, use a small mesh strainer to remove 2-3 tablespoons of the beans from the pot.
  • Mash them up in the strainer with a fork, kind of like making smashed potatoes.
  • Finally, add that bean paste back to the soup and stir well. Let the soup simmer a little while longer.
  • Stir occasionally to keep the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot; and to gauge how thick it is.

 

Cook’s Notes

If you’ve made this soup before, please note that this recipe has been updated with the following changes:

  • Instead of 8 cups of water we used 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water.
  • We doubled the amount of carrots and celery
  • Dried oregano was substituted for fresh oregano

 

You may also like these comforting soups:

 

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Navy bean soup served in a black bowl, with a red and white cloth napkin and spoon on the side.
Print Recipe
4.67 from 12 votes

Navy Bean Soup

This navy bean soup is made with smoked ham shanks, vegetables and spices. It’s a hearty and delicious soup the whole family will enjoy.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Quick soak method1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bean soups, navy beans
Servings: 6
Calories: 538kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Navy Beans sorted, rinsed and soaked
  • 1 pound Smoked Ham Shank rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced
  • 2 Carrots diced
  • 2 Celery Ribs diced
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Pick through the beans to remove any foreign objects (like small stones). Don’t skip this step, I’ve found stones in dry beans on more than one occasion. Add the beans to a colander and rinse them well with cold water and drain.

Soak the beans - use the overnight or the quick soak method.

  • Overnight method: Add the beans to a pot. Cover the beans with 4-6 cups of water. Let the beans soak overnight. Drain the water completely and rinse the beans well with fresh, cold water.
  • Quick soaking method:  Add the beans and 6-8 cups of water to a large pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover and allow them to soak for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans. I use the quick soak method and it has worked well so far.

Prepare the smoked ham shank

  • Rinse the ham with cold water, pat dry.

Make the navy bean soup

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, paprika and black pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the smoked ham shank, navy beans, chicken broth, water, and the bay leaf to the pot and stir. Raise heat to high, bring the liquid to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the smoked ham shank from the pot and place on a cutting board. Cover the soup and continue cooking. When the smoked ham shank is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and any fatty pieces. Chop the meat and return it to the pot.
  • Continue cooking the navy bean soup for another 15 minutes. Taste a couple of beans; if they’re tender, the soup is done. If the beans are still a little firm, cover and continue cooking. Check the beans every 15 minutes or so, until they reach the desired consistency.
  • Taste the navy bean soup and add salt if needed. As a reference, we added ¾ teaspoon to our soup.
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Notes

If you've made this soup before, please note that this recipe has been updated with the following changes:
  • Replaced 8 cups of water with 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water
  • Doubled the amount of carrots and celery (2 of each instead of 1)
  • Dried oregano was substituted for fresh oregano

Nutrition

Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 769mg | Potassium: 1367mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3602IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 156mg | Iron: 6mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.

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16 thoughts on “Navy Bean Soup”

  • 5 stars
    Although it was 90 degrees today, hoping to encourage cooler Fall temperatures, I prepared this recipe. The warmth of the paprika and oregano was soothing and delicious. I will definitely be making this recipe again this fall. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Hi Jeff,
      I’m in Miami so I know what you mean! I love soup and can’t let the heat win! So happy you enjoyed the soup and thank you for your kind review.

  • Hi! I’m just making this soup now and I’m trying to be a little more accurate with the serving size. I notice it says 6 servings but I’m wondering what size the nutritional information is based on, 1 cup or more? It’s a huge pot and it’s smelling good. Thanks!

    • Hi Kathy,
      The nutritional information is computer generated and is only an estimate. The servings are based on the final product that we ended up with (6 serving of the soup as the main meal). You can divide the soup into six servings, and then separate it further from there – so half of one serving would be approximately half of the nutrition information, etc. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. I do hope that the soup turns out good! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hi Karen,
      Yes, smoked paprika is also called Spanish paprika or pimenton. It’s made from smoked, dried peppers that are ground into powder. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Lisa, I think the ham bone will work just fine. If it’s not very meaty, chop a little leftover ham to put in the soup too.

  • 5 stars
    I am going to try this in the Slow Cooker, instead of on the stove top. I am elderly and forgetful. I would forget to tchange temp. or remember when to stir and end up with a mess. Hope it turns out ok. I am going to use celery salt to sneak in celery because my husband dislikes celery. If he sees it. The pictures look a lot like Campbell’s Bean and Bacon soup which we both love.. Anxious to make it after Easter, so I will have ham.
    Thanks for posting.

  • I can’t rate it yet, because I’m about to cook it. I just went to the store & purchased the ingredients. I’m smoked pork sausage.
    I have amazing pork ham hock broth that I froze into 3 silicone cupcake trays. The broth recipe was from Nom Nom Paleo.
    I want to have easy breakfast/lunch/dinner so I’m going to make your recipe & leave it in a crock pot on low. Thanks for the recipe, I’m sure it’ll be delicious.

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