This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Ham and Navy Bean Soup is a simple, hearty soup that’s full of rich flavor. Made with leftover ham and dried navy beans plus loads of chopped up veggies, this ham and bean soup is perfect for a lunch or dinner meal and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd.

Make a meal out of navy bean and ham soup by serving with a copycat Olive Garden Salad or wedge salad and a loaf of homemade garlic bread

A large soup pot filled with navy bean soup with ham, carrots and celery
Pin this recipe for later!Pin This
Save this recipe
Enter your email below & we’ll send it straight to your inbox. Plus you’ll get great new recipes from us every week!

Why I Love This Recipe

During the cooler fall and winter months, soup night is at least a weekly thing at our house. We love soup for a meal like Tortellini Soup, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup and Loaded Baked Potato Soup that grace our table often.

Navy Bean Soup is not only quite tasty, it’s also a great way to use up leftover ham from your holiday feast. If you have a ham bone you could throw that in there as well. When a craving hits and I don’t happen to have any leftover ham, I’ll pick up a ham steak from the meat department or use bacon or Polish sausage instead.

Ingredients

This Ham Bean Soup has a few easy to find ingredients that you likely have in your pantry already or can easily find at the local grocery store.

  • Navy Beans you can also use great northern beans, cannellini beans, or pinto beans. I like to make this soup using dried beans, but if you want to use canned this recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. Just be sure to drain and rinse the beans first.
  • Vegetables – Chopped onion, celery, and carrots, also known as mirepoix. This combination is considered the holy trinity and is commonly used as the flavor base for soups and other dishes.
  • Ham – use up leftovers from a big meal or pick up a ham steak or even chopped ham at the grocery store. Feel free to throw a ham bone in with the cooking liquid if you have one. Bacon, polish sausage, or even chicken can be used as a substitute. If you have a hambone or ham hock, add that in with the beans as they cook for really great flavor.
  • Seasonings – I used dried thyme, which I often use in soups, garlic, and a bay leaf. Salt should only be added at the end, if needed, since the ham can be quite salty on its own.
  • Water – Water seems like an obvious ingredient, right? You’ll add about 8 cups but more can be added to thin out a thicker soup.

How To Make Ham and Navy Bean Soup

There are a few different methods that you can use to make Navy Bean Soup, depending on how much time you have. The method described here is my preferred and recommended method – presoaking the beans overnight.

  • The Night Before: Pick through the beans and discard any broken pieces. Place beans in a large pot and cover with 3 inches of water. Cover and let sit overnight.
  • Drain and Rinse: Strain the beans through a large colander. Rinse and dry the soup pot and place on the stove over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the diced onion, carrots and celery until softened; about 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for another minute.
  • Add the Beans: Add beans, water and ham and bring to a boil. Stir in a ½ teaspoon of salt, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are very soft, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure that the soup doesn’t scorch on the bottom.
  • Season: Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh cracked black pepper and fresh minced parsley.
a collage of three photos depicting the steps for making navy bean soup
a black ladle with white beans, broth, ham and carrots

Do You Have to Soak Navy Beans For Soup?

The short answer is no, you do not have to soak the beans overnight. Soaking them does drastically reduce the cooking time, but it’s not necessary to make this soup. I covered a few different cooking methods above.

However, soaking the beans overnight softens them so they cook faster and makes them easier to digest. That’s why it’s the method that I use and highly recommend.

Cooking Variations

There are a few different methods to use to make this soup. The overnight soak method is my preferred method because it provides the best texture for the beans. But there are a couple of other methods I’ve tested that work just as well.

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup

  • Place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours.

Note – If you want to impart a little deeper flavor, saute the veggies and garlic first.

30-Minute Navy Bean Soup with Canned Beans

This is a quick and easy way to make your ham and bean soup. I prefer the texture of the dried beans, but this method works in a pinch.

  1. Saute the veggies and seasonings.
  2. Add 3 cans of rinsed and drained white beans.
  3. Add ham and water.
  4. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until beans are soft.

How to Thicken Your Soup

The broth in this soup is water based, and not thick. If you’d like a thicker base, you have a couple of options:
Puree (preferred) – Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. You don’t have to make it completely smooth, just a few pulses will help to puree some of the ingredients and will make your soup thicker. It will look similar to my Bacon and Bean Soup.
Cornstarch slurry – Whisk equal parts cornstarch and soup liquid in a small dish, then stir into the soup. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Are Great Northern Beans the same as Navy Beans?

While they are similar, these are two different kinds of white beans. Great northern beans are a little larger and more versatile because they hold their shape well, while navy beans tend to be softer and great for soups and purees.

a white bowl filled with beans, carrots and ham soup.

Storage

Soup makes for some really fantastic leftovers because the longer it sits, the more the flavors intensify.

Fridge: Refrigerate for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

Freezer: Freeze leftover navy bean soup for up to 6 months. Let cool and pour into a resealable freezer bag, then place into the freezer.

Reheat: Thaw first, then heat on the stove or in the microwave.

More soup recipes to try

Recipe
A bowl of Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Ham and Navy Bean Soup

4.53 from 17 votes
Simple, hearty Ham and Bean Soup with veggies and tons of flavor.
Prep Time 12 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound dried Navy beans or great Northern beans rinsed well
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups diced ham bacon or smoked sausage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
Save this recipe
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!

Instructions
 

  • The night before: Pick through the beans and discard any broken pieces. Place beans in a large pot and cover with 3 inches of water. Cover and let sit overnight.
  • Strain the beans through a large colander. Rinse and dry the soup pot and place on the stove over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add diced onion, carrots and celery, and cook until softened; about 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for another minute.
  • Add beans, water and ham and bring to a boil. Stir in a ½ teaspoon of salt, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beans are very soft, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure that the soup doesn’t scorch on the bottom.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh cracked black pepper and fresh minced parsley.

Notes

NOTES
  • Slow Cooker method – combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker and cook overnight on low for about 12 hours or until beans are very soft.
  • No soaking method – cook as directed but simmer for at least 3 hours.
    Use ham for the soup. Like a ham steak (not lunch meat lol)
Keyword navy bean soup

Nutrition

Calories: 307kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 23gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 415mgPotassium: 1020mgFiber: 20gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 5095IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 5mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

Free Email Series
5 Secrets to Dinnertime Sanity
Free email series with tested, tasted & terrific dinner recipes!

You Might Also Like

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    This is really great! I added 28 oz.. diced tomatoes…um even better.

  2. Ray Ranstrom says:

    Love this. The second time I added a sweet potato and used a homemade mirepoix veg. broth. WOW.

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Ray! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Debra Renner says:

    This sounds great but I question cooking carrots, onions and celery for your and half. They’d be mush. So I’ll add my veggies last 20 minute.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Debra, you are welcome to do that, but I recommend following this tried and true recipe. The veggies will be soft bet definitely not mush.

  4. Rhonda Rogers Armor says:

    Kristin…would you help me understand your slow cooker note? So you do NOT soak the beans first? And what do you mean by “Cook as directed but simmer for at least 3 hours”? Do you simmer before you put in slow cooker? I’m confused.

    Thank you!

    NOTES Slow Cooker method – combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker and cook overnight on low for about 12 hours or until beans are very soft. No soaking method – cook as directed but simmer for at least 3 hours. Use ham for the soup. Like a ham steak (not lunch meat lol)

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Rhonda, I’m sorry, that seems to be a digital glitch. There should be a line/space before “no soaking method.” I’ll fix that. Hopefully that helps it make more sense!

  5. Carol Dalessio says:

    Hi my name is Carol,
    I have a 7 1/2 pound Cooke’s brand ham butt portion, in the oven baking Presently . I wanted to know if I could throw 1 lb. of navy beans ( “Un soaked “ ) into the pot with a lid on with the ham and water and slow cook it at 325° in the oven and when the ham was almost done, take the take the ham out glaze it , put into a roasting pan . I wanted to use the rest of the water and the beans that’s inside of the pot, to make the soup on top of the stove , cutting time and I thought That the soup would have more flavor by doing that and NOT discarding the remaining water with the ham flavor . THE HAM HAS THE BONE ? IN , I’m thinking the broth for the soup would be much more full of flavor?? What is your take on that idea ? Then after the glazed ham is done and carved , I was gonna put the bone back in the pot that the beans and water are cooking in on the stove . I do have 2 cans of northern white beans. I could use them instead of the raw beans, for the soup to cook faster .
    Please help …. ham has been in the oven for an hour right now with just water .
    Oh , FYI I was going to make a glaze of crushed coves , agave , lemon , dash of Cinnamon & some monk fruit natural zero sugar, substitute.
    The ham ‘s timer is going off , it’s bee an hour.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Carol, sounds like you’ve got a great plan, let me know how it turns out!