Navy Bean Soup is hearty and comforting. With a few tricks to amp up the flavor, it’s perfect for dinner on a chilly night.

This Ham and Bean Soup Recipe was one of my dad’s favorites. His old-fashioned recipe wasn’t gourmet, but it hit the spot when a cold spell hit the Midwest.

Navy bean soup in a white soup bowl with crackers and red handled spoons

Why You Must Make

  • It’s filling, toasty warm, and tasty.
  • If you’re like me, there’s a ham bone from Easter buried in your freezer. It will add magnificent flavor. Or just buy some ham hocks.
  • Layers of flavor make for a delicious soup.
Old fashioned Navy Bean Soup in a white bowl with a red handled spoon

How to Make

Making a delicious soup involves the layering of ingredients and concentrating of flavors by sauteing the vegetables before adding any liquid.

  1. Rinse and soak the beans.
  2. Make a bouquet garni from with the herbs.
  3. Saute the vegetables and aromatics until soft.
  4. Deglaze the pan with white wine, if desired.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.
  6. Simmer until the beans are tender. Taste and reseason if needed.
  7. Remove the ham bone and shred or dice any meat. Add back to the soup.
  8. Serve hot!

Expert Tips

  • Presoak your beans to shorten their cooking time.
  • Even using boxed chicken broth, this soup may still need salt. Beans are inherently bland and need a boost of flavor from seasonings.
  • Another way to punch up the flavor is by deglazing the pan with alcohol. After sauteing the vegetables, add a little white wine, sherry or vermouth and let it evaporate. Alcohol, like salt, is a flavor enhancer.
  • Note: Most of the alcohol will be cooked off as it evaporates making this soup safe to feed to children. It can be omitted if that’s your preference and you’ll still have a flavorful soup.
  • Adding a ham bone provides more flavor than just ham alone. Ask your butcher for some ham hocks as they will add tons of flavor.
  • If you’d like a thicker soup, remove a cup or so of the cooked beans, puree them, then add them back to the pot. Stir and serve.
Bowl of bean soup with ham garnished with thyme in a white bowl with a red handle spoon surrounded by oyster crackers

Culinary Terms:


To deglaze means heating a small amount of liquid in a pan where meat or vegetables have been cooked. By stirring, the alcohol, broth, etc. help to extract the flavor from any of the brown bits left at the bottom of the pan. This resulting mixture can create the base for sauces, soups, etc.

Bouquet Garni

A bouquet garni (boo-KAY gahr-NEE) is a French term that refers to a bundle of herbs tied together with butcher’s twine or placed in a cheesecloth bag. It typically consists of parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf or two. It’s used to flavor soups and stews, then removed before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Navy Beans?

Navy beans or Yankee beans are small white beans that were a staple for the U.S, Navy since the 1800s. It is the bean used in canned pork and beans, some Boston baked bean recipes, and many bean soups.

Do You Need to Soak Navy Beans Before Cooking?

Yes, soaking the beans helps to rehydrate them so they’ll cook faster and more evenly.

Is Bean Soup Healthy?

Yes, it is. Navy beans are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It may lower the risk of colon cancer when eaten regularly. Plus, all the vegetables in this soup provide nutritional benefits.

What Do You Eat with Bean Soup?

Crusty bread or crackers are great with soup, as are corn muffins. A side salad or even a grilled cheese sandwich are nice pairings.

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Bowl of bean soup in a white soup bowl with a red handled spoon

Navy Bean Soup with Ham Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A hearty, comforting bean soup with ham and vegetables.


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 5 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine, optional
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 ham hocks or a meaty ham bone
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste,, start with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Rinse beans and remove any debris. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let soak for an hour.
  2. Drain the beans and set them aside.
  3. Make a bouquet garni by tying the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine. Set aside.
  4. Add oil to a large stockpot and heat to medium-high. Saute the onions, carrots, celery, and red bell pepper until soft.
  5. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with white wine, if desired.
  6. Add the bouquet garni, beans, ham, and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer until the beans are tender, about an hour and a half. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  8. Remove the ham bone and shred or dice any meat. Add to the soup.
  9. Serve hot.


If you prefer a thicker soup, remove a cup or more of the cooked beans, puree them and mix them back into the soup.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 303Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 883mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 20g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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