Navy Bean Soup

Are you getting tired yet?   I am still cleaning out the pantry and freezer but I had a home run with this recipe.

We are going to be at work until 7:30 p.m. a couple of days this week for conferences, so I decided to make some soup for the staff since they basically would not be getting a break all day.

Thanks again to Mom.   She brought some smoked ham for sandwiches at Thanksgiving and I found the remainder of that ham in the freezer.   Mom was also adamant during Thanksgiving that we had to have stuffed celery.   I also found the leftover celery that she had chopped and stuck in my freezer.

Mom taught us well.   We always had a freezer full of home-grown meat, frozen cherries, and veggies and a pantry full of home-canned green beans, tomatoes, peaches, pears, dilled okra, and pickles.   Nothing went to waste.   Carcasses from roasted chickens and turkeys were turned into noodle soups.   Ham bones were turned into a navy bean or pinto bean soup.   Everything was used and I know that mom learned this from her mother and that this practice goes back ad infinitum.

Can I blame my mother for the current state of my overflowing freezer and jam-packed pantry?


Mom taught us to save and plan.   My failure has been to use the produce that I have put up.  It is easier to grab take-out or just run to dinner.   We may save some time that way, but we are missing out on a nutritious hardy meal.   Although this recipe takes four hours to cook, it is an easy recipe to let simmer on the stove (and that is exactly what I did this past Sunday).   I am sure this could be adapted to the crockpot easily.


Navy Bean Soup

16 oz. dried navy beans
6 c. water (plus up to 3 more cups at end)
2 T. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 c. celery, chopped
2 c. carrots, sliced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes (or one quart home-canned tomatoes, chopped)
1 cube chicken bullion cube
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dried Mexican oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 to 1 lb. smoked ham, chopped

Wash beans, cover with three inches of water and soak overnight (at least 6-8 hours).   After beans have soaked, drain and rinse.

Place beans in a large stock pot with water.   Heat to boiling.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet and saute garlic, onion, celery, and carrots.    Saute until onions are limp and veggies are aromatic.

The carrots and celery came from the freezer. (The carrots actually came from our garden.)

Add to beans.

Add tomatoes, bullion, Worcestershire, and spices.

I gave these home-canned tomatoes a rough chop. That parsley survived in a pot on our kitchen step---that is until last weekend when it finally froze out.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Simmer for two hours.

Add more 3 cups more water and add ham.   Simmer two more hours.   Remove bay leaf and serve.

If anything, this Clean Out has helped reinforce our commitment to eating local, healthy, and more frugally.

The dried beans came from the pantry, the garlic and frozen carrots came from our garden.   Even the bay leaf came from the bay tree in the green house.   I had canned the tomatoes this summer.  (Unfortunately, the tomatoes had come from the Farmers Market and not our own garden.)   I grabbed the last of the parsley from the pot on the kitchen step.   (Yes, it finally bit the dust with this final HARD freeze.)

The celery and ham came from the freezer (and from mom).

In an ideal world, I would have used homemade chicken stock, but I did find a box of bullion cubes in the pantry so they did need used!

I did finally break down and go to the store for a real onion.  🙂

Warm soup for a cold day.

This recipe could easily become vegetarian and still be fabulous.

17 comments to Navy Bean Soup

  • I’m in league with your mom about mandatory stuffed celery at Thanksgiving! The pantry cleanout posts are just great. I’ve been enjoying them myself and trying to do some cleanout myself. I can’t believe how many bags of chopped hot peppers are in my freezer.

  • I’m like your mom, I like to use everything I can (I even save the ends of celery, onion and carrot peels and freeze them for making stock). Navy bean soup is one of my favs, I make it a lot more since I got a pressure cooker, ready in 1 hour and no soaking of the beans! Never heard of stuffed celery, you’ll have to share that sometime.

  • I always have found it to be supremely satisfying to clean out the freezer and cupboard. I feel so good about it afterwards. Navy Bean soup…I have not made that in awhile and I do have a ham bone from the holidays in the freezer. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Eliot

      I know you have had celery stuffed with cheese (pimento, pineapple, etc.)! When I think about pressure cookers, I remember the old canners that my grandmother had. She would always warn us that it “might” blow up! I hope they have advanced since then! 🙂

      Chef Connie—
      Thanks for the comment. That ham bone should make a great bean soup!

  • I am famous for freezing stuff. The only problem is, I sometimes dont mark it and cant figure out what it is. It is a great time of year for bean soup. Warm and comforting. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

  • Your mom rocks! We routinely do clean outs and figure out what we can make with what is available. I got tired of tossing bits of food out.

  • Liz

    My dad loves navy bean soup. I may have used up my last ham bone, but if not, I’ll make this for his next visit. Bill will love it, too.

  • Dan

    That soup looks delicious.

    At university, the cafeteria’s navy bean soup didn’t look delicious at all.

    I’l need to keep this recipe in mind for the cold weather we’ve been having (funny it hasn’t been terribly cold this winter).

  • Ann

    This looks terrific! I have to say….I’m LOVING this clean-up series you’re doing and I bet it feels GREAT! …are you seeing a dent in your pantry and freezer yet?

    • Eliot

      Welcome back, Ann! Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I really can’t see a dent in the pantry yet. Maybe the freezer a little bit.

  • Bean soups are so hearty and satisfying without being rich… I love that; this one looks like a delight!