Easy Navy Bean Soup

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This simple, hearty and comforting white bean soup transports me back to my childhood in a single bite. I have long loved Navy Bean Soup for being healthy, filling, and bursting with flavor. It doesn’t hurt that it’s extremely economical, making it easy to feed a crowd even on the strictest of budgets.

overhead shot of a white bowl of navy bean soup with a silver spoon on a blue linen

My mom and I used to love to eat dinner together at one of our favorite restaurants — it wasn’t very often we ate out, so the whole experience was a big treat for us. In the winter, we each would order a bowl of Navy Bean Soup and share a piece of cornbread.

While the old-timey restaurant chain closed its doors years ago, I still crave this special soup. Thanks to Bush’s® Beans, I can replicate this beautiful soup (and memory!) at home.

overhead shot of navy bean soup in a pot and in a white bowl with a can of bush's great northern beans and a slice of cornbread

Why This Recipe is Wonderful

Now that the holidays are behind us, some of you may have some leftover holiday ham kicking around in the fridge or freezer. If you’re looking for ways to give the ham a new life, my favorite white bean soup may just be what the doctor ordered.

I don’t know about you, but I love a recipe that will help me use up what I already have in the fridge. Since the ham is easily the most expensive part of the recipe, using leftover holiday ham makes this a perfect rent-week meets post-Christmas spending slump meal.

2 carrots, 3 bay leaves, a head of garlic, celery stalks and a bowl of white beans on a cutting board

My mom came up with this yummy copycat recipe for the Navy Bean Soup I remember from childhood. While she makes hers with dried navy beans, I make mine using Bush’s® Great Northern Beans as a shortcut to getting dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

close up of a can of bush's great northern beans on a wooden cutting board with vegetables around it

Bush’s Beans are one of my favorite weeknight kitchen heroes because they shorten an hours long process into just minutes. As a family-owned business since 1908, they have earned my trust over years of use. Already soaked and cooked to al dente perfection, Bush’s Beans makes my Navy Bean Soup a perfect meal for even the busiest of weeknights.

Serve a hefty helping of this rib-sticking soup with a drizzle of hot sauce for a hit of bright spice and a wedge of cornbread slathered with butter to bring you to the pinnacle of comfort. I promise, it’ll make you feel as snug as a bug in a rug!

How to Make Ham and White Bean Soup

In a large Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, melt the butter until bubbling. Add the garlic and onions, stir and sauté them until the onion is transparent, about 2 to 3 minutes.onions sautéing in a pot with a wooden spoon

Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

carrots and celery added to onions sautéing in pot

When they begin to brown (after about 5-6 minutes), add the ham and stir well.

cubed ham added to mirepoix in pot with a wooden spoon

When the vegetables are well sautéed, add the beans, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper.

beans and herbs added to pot with ham and mirepoix

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

overhead shot of completed ham and white navy bean soup in pot with wooden spoon

When ready to serve, remove 1 cup of beans and mash with a masher until smooth. Add the smooth beans back to pot and stir. Taste and season with salt or pepper if needed.

close up 45 degree angle shot of ham and white bean soup in a bowl with a silver spoon and a blue napkin

Frequently Asked Questions

Have any good ideas to thicken up my soup?

To thicken the Navy Bean Soup, I suggest that you remove 1 cup of beans and mash with a masher or purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return mixture back to the soup and stir to combine. The natural starch from the beans will act as a thickener.

If you prefer your bean soup to resemble more of a stew, you can mash more of the beans to thicken it even further!

Are Great Northern beans the same as navy beans?

Great Northern Beans are a type of white bean, though not the same type as navy bean. Great Northerns are a slightly larger bean, and they are actually reputed to hold up better to cooking than navy beans. All that said, you can use either strain of bean for this delicious ham and white bean soup recipe.

What is the best way to store this bean soup?

Like with most soups and stews, my Navy Bean Soup recipe will continue to develop flavor as it rests, meaning it’s even better the next day. Leftover soup will last for up to a week in the refrigerator.

This yummy soup recipe is also an excellent candidate for freezing. It should last for up to three months in the freezer.

Need More Cold Weather Food Inspiration?

Check Out These Other Treasured Soup and Stew Recipes:

If you made this delicious Navy Bean Soup recipe, please comment below to let me know how it turned out. I hope you enjoy it as much as my mom and I do!

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overhead shot of a pot and a white bowlful of navy bean soup with buttered bread

Easy Navy Bean Soup

This Easy Navy Bean Soup is a comforting dream in a bowl. Filled with veggies, Great Northern Beans, and ham. This economical soup is fancy enough for company and easy enough to serve on a casual weeknight.
overhead shot of navy bean soup in a white bowl on a blue napkin
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 ham steaks, chopped (18 ounces)
  • 3 (16-ounce) cans BUSH'S® Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans, drained
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, melt butter add the garlic and onions. Sauté them until the onion is transparent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and celery, continue cooking for a few more minutes until they begin to brown about 5 to 6 minutes. Then add the ham and stir well.
  • When the vegetables are well sautéed, add the beans, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. 
  • When ready to serve, remove 1 cup of beans and mash with a masher until smooth. Add the smooth beans back to pot and stir. Taste and season with salt if needed. 
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with hot sauce and ground black pepper and serve with cornbread.

Notes

Leftover soup will last for up to a week in the refrigerator. Or freeze for up to three months.

I’d love to see what you cook!

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Photography by Jenna Sparks 

This post is in partnership with BUSH’S® Beans. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.