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

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.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword bean soups, navy beans
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Quick soak method 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 538kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 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


  • 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.


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


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