Bean Soup With Ham

Navy bean soup recipe

The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

  • Total: 2 hrs 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Soak Beans: 4 hrs
  • Servings: 10 to 12 Servings
  • Yields: 16 Cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
139 Calories
1g Fat
24g Carbs
9g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 139
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 87mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Protein 9g
Calcium 69mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This navy bean soup is a simple dish made with diced ham from a baked ham dinner (or a leftover ham bone) and dried navy beans. It's hearty enough to serve as a lunch or supper soup, and because it's budget-friendly you can feed a crowd without sacrificing flavor or quality.

It's a versatile dish, so use any dry beans that you have at hand, like great northern, soldier, pinto, appaloosa, cranberry, or another variety. Add some carrots or a handful of chopped greens for extra color, texture, and flavor. Although it's delicious enough prepared with just water, use part unsalted vegetable broth or chicken stock for an additional flavor profile. Check our tips below for a variation with chunky tomatoes.

Serve this bean soup with cornbread, cornbread muffins, corn sticks, freshly baked biscuits or crusty rolls for a traditional Southern dinner.

For the slow-cooked version, check our crockpot navy bean and ham soup.


  • 1 pound dried navy beans (or another variety of bean)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 ham hocks (or a meaty leftover ham bone or shank)
  • Optional: 1 cup ham (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup carrots (diced)
  • 2 bay leaves (dried)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for navy bean soup
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  2. Thoroughly wash the navy beans and pick them over. Discard any damaged or malformed beans and look for small stones.

    Wash navy beans
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  3. Pour the beans into a very large pot and add 2 quarts of water. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a full boil; let boil for 3 minutes.

    Pour water
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  4. Remove from the heat and let beans soak for 2 to 4 hours.

    Remove from heat
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  5. Once the beans have soaked, add the ham hocks or ham bone to the pot with the beans and their cooking water and bring to a simmer.

    Add hamhocks
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  6. Continue to cook over low heat until the beans are tender, or about 90 minutes.

    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  7. Remove the bones and chop the ham, discarding the bones and fat. Reserve the ham on the side.

    Remove bones
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  8. Return the chopped ham to the pot. Add the onions, bay leaf, celery, and optional carrots to the pot, as well as the extra leftover chopped ham, if using.

    Salt and pepper
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic 
  9. Add enough water or unsalted vegetable stock to make about 16 cups of liquid. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper, as needed.

    Add vegetable stock
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  10. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes to one hour, or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has thickened a little.

    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic
  11. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Navy soup
    The Spruce / Zorica Lakonic

Soak Overnight

  • If you prefer to soak your beans overnight, there's no need to boil the water first. Wash and pick the beans as instructed in step 2 of the recipe, put them in a bowl with 2 quarts of water, and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. But remember, if you're soaking overnight, it's best to rinse the beans and start the cooking process with fresh water instead, as the soaking water after 12 hours contains indigestible sugars that create gas during digestion.

Flavoring Your Soup

If you want to try different flavors for our recipe, we recommend adding one or two of the following:

  • Add 1 clove of minced garlic to the soup alongside the vegetables.
  • Add two 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes to the soup alongside the vegetables.
  • Add fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano, but do pick out the sprigs of herbs before serving.
  • Add 4 cups of collard greens, spinach, or baby kale 20 minutes before the cooking time is over.
  • To make a very thick soup, add 1 cubed day-old baguette to the soup when you add the vegetables.
  • Grate a good amount of Parmesan cheese on top of each serving bowl and garnish with parsley.