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while the gettin’ is good

Recipe: navy bean soup

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend doing whatever it is that you do. As a rule, Jeremy and I do not participate in any form of Super Bowl anything. Typically, we spend that particular Sunday each year hiking or skiing and this year was no exception. Mother Nature can be a cruel prankster at times. While she dumped a few feet of snow on Virginians who don’t know what to do with said snow (other than to bitch and moan about it), we in Colorado got some scraps that amounted to a little fresh powder in the mountains. Naturally, we ski it.

snowing lightly in the glades

There are certain foods I crave after a day out in the snow. The most common would be the ubiquitous hamburger because you smell them as you ski past the mountain lodges and Breckenridge even has a picture of a juicy burger with all the fixings on some of the lift chairs (those bastard marketing geniuses)! Jeremy and I are pretty good about withstanding the lure of the $12 burger because we usually have some nice hearty soup or stew waiting for us at home.

loaded with nutritious vegetables

and remember that ham i brought home from virginia?

I love to make navy bean soup, but this recipe calls for country ham which I only have in my possession on rare occasion. I’ve had this recipe for over 15 years such that I have no idea where it came from… probably – anyone remember those newsgroups? Anyway, since I had some Virginia ham in the fridge, I made a couple of batches of this lovely navy bean soup. It’s hearty without being overly meaty.

diced vegetables, chopped parsley, chopped ham, navy beans

sautéing the vegetables

The original recipe called for dried beans and I tried that once. That was not a happy time in Tummyville, let me tell you. I know, I know – I need to invest in a pressure cooker to get beans just right at this elevation. In the meantime, I am perfectly satisfied substituting canned navy beans for now. [A navy bean is bigger than it seems.]

add beans and broth

cooking down the fresh tomatoes

I often use a can of diced tomatoes in the soup, but this time I happened to have a pound and a half of fresh tomatoes on the vine that I needed to finish off. It’s a more time-consuming task to peel, de-seed, and cook down the fresh tomatoes, but the flavor is certainly superior to canned tomatoes.

purée two cups of soup

finish with parsley, ham, and seasonings

The final soup is a vibrant bowl of vegetables, beans, and ham. It quickly warms the core and satisfies the stomach. If you let it sit overnight, the flavors meld together nicely.

and it’s good for you

Navy Bean Soup
[print recipe]
I honestly don’t know where I got this recipe from, I’ve had it THAT long

1 lb. dried navy beans (or in my case, I used 4 cans of navy beans)
3 tbsps olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 quarts chicken broth
14 oz. can diced tomatoes (or 1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced)
1/2 lb. country ham, chopped
2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Soak beans in water overnight, then drain. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot on high heat and sauté the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots until soft. Add the beans and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to let the soup simmer for an hour. Remove 2 cups to a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. Add the purée back to the soup. Toss in the tomatoes, ham, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, bay leaf, and pepper. Salt to taste. Simmer for another hour. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot. Makes approximately 14 cups (3.5 quarts).

33 nibbles at “while the gettin’ is good”

  1. Randi says:

    love that you threw tracy bonham in there – i thought of it right as i saw what the recipe was. looks delicious – can’t wait to try it without the ham.

  2. Rosa says:

    A beautiful soup! I bet it tastes wonderful.



  3. Reni says:

    That is one beautiful soup.. makes me craving for some right now.. Ugh, how my stomach growls at the sight of it.. It’s ur fault Jen.. :)

  4. Bethany says:

    My mom makes a soup like this — ham, bean, celery, onion, etc. — every year after Christmas! We always have a Christmas ham and she throws in all the leftovers — including the ham hock, which flavors the broth SO nicely! Thanks for the reminder of home :-)

  5. Dawn (KitchenTravels) says:

    Navy bean soup is one of my favorites. I recently posted my own recipe for it, too! Can’t go wrong on a cold day with a big ol’ bowl of it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the snow to go with it. The only bad thing about this post? I’ve been craving country ham and biscuits ever since you wrote about them, and I FINALLY got them out of my head, only to have the craving come rushing back after seeing that ham in this soup. Darn! Hmmm… internet mail-order ham might be in my near future…

  6. Debbie says:

    Sounds like a wonderful, hearty soup!

  7. Georgia.Pellegrini says:

    PERFECT soup two warm your toes and soul after a long day on the slopes!

  8. Abby says:

    Count me as a Southerner complaining about said snow. Down here in N.C., however, we didn’t get the walloping your Virginians did.

    Beans and country ham. Oh, yes.

  9. Manggy says:

    Oh, who knows what culinary secrets lurk in the pre-blog-recipe files! I love everything in this – kind of like a minestrone (actually minestrone soups traditionally just use whatever’s around, so I guess it is!). There’s no way our sour Philippine tomatoes will top canned ones, though, sadly :(
    I would SO much rather have this than a $12 burger any day!!

  10. Sharon says:

    This looks SO good. And the fact that you quote Tracy Bonham made my day. I’m off to queue her up on my ipod now. Dancing around the kitchen is fun, if not always entirely safe. :)

  11. Sandra says:

    Haha, I’m a Marylander whose area was on the receiving end of a 29″ snowfall. Even though we lost power for a day or so, I love snow! I wouldn’t mind a little break in shoveling though (we’re getting another 10-20″ in the next couple days) and lack of a vehicle with 4-wheel drive makes getting to work a little too exciting for me.

    But to be on topic, I’m definitely adding this soup to the top of my recipe list! It just looks so delicious and cozy.

  12. Mrs Ergül says:

    Wow I like the colour! It is good you and Jeremy don’t get easily tempted by the ads while skiing down the slopes!

    I hope you are well prepared for CNY already!

  13. thedelishdish says:

    oh how i wish i could have some of this soup to warm me up right now! its full of so much nutrition. may just need to get some country ham and try this out. a recipe that’s been in your collection for 15 years must stand out!

  14. SallyBR says:

    Oh, I DO remember! What a flash back this brings!

    Very nice looking soup – I love the pureed component, Brazilians always do that when they make black beans to add body to the dish. Well, the good cooks do, that is :-)

  15. jess says:

    As someone who lives in Washington DC you bet your pattootie if there was a mountain anywhere near me I’d be skiing on it.

    After spending several hours shoveling my driveway and the street I suddenly grokked why Coloradoans have the lowest incidence of obesity in America. The awesome opertunities for skiing, hiking and other fun things (well to me) are optional to some coloradoans but the shoveling part is kind of mandatory. And it will kick your ass.

  16. bee says:

    skiing here on super bowl sunday was bliss, with fresh powder and the crowds staying at home. i wish i lived in CO, though. more months to ski.

  17. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    I was thinking about a bean and ham soup today. This is perfect! I have a ham bone in the freezer ready to go. Have you ever swapped out the navy beans with cannellini beans?

  18. Lindsey@pickyeatings says:

    I love soups, and I also am in love with beans, so this looks amazing!

  19. Lesley says:

    YUMMO! I made this for dinner last night and it was diggity good!!!!!! Having it again today for either lunch or dinner. Great recipe, Thanks!

  20. my spatula says:

    i’m chuckling at the hamburger craving apres ski. every weekend in lake tahoe meant lots of skiing, but even more burgers.

  21. Susan says:

    Wow! I just finished a huge bowl with a buttermilk biscuit…..what a treat while watching the snow outside!!

  22. Eva says:

    I love your blog and your recipes. I am technically UNABLE to cook. My husband does all the cooking but I dream of being able one day. I try to practice from time to time (when my 8h employee work allows) and you are my absolute HERO!
    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Susan says:

    Forgot to mention, in my ecstasy, that I’m in Virginia now, and inundated with snow…so, I’ve enjoyed cooking several of your Chinese recipes as well. Haven’t been to work in so long, but I’ve sure enjoyed cooking! Thanks so much!

  24. Kevin says:

    What a hearty and tasty looking soup!

  25. jenyu says:

    Randi – I never see the words “navy bean” without thinking of her :)

    Bethany – if I had an extra ham bone, I would have added that too!

    SallyBR – I think the purée of beans really helps to give the soup some body without making it pasty (the way too much cornstarch can)

    Bee – I can’t believe you guys have a shorter ski season than we do?!?!

    Andrea – yes, I’ve had to do that before when I couldn’t find navy beans anywhere. Works great.

    Lesley – diggity!!! woooo!!!

  26. Jason says:

    I just finished cooking this dish and have filed it under my ‘go to’ folder in my browser. I skipped the parsley since I didn’t have any on hand, but will definitely grab some for next time. Thanks for the recipe.

  27. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    I made this soup well over a week ago and it was excellent comfort food. I used navy beans since I had a hard time finding dried cannelini when I went to the store that day. The soup was a favorite – the hubby really dug this one. The Worcestershire sauce is what made it special – I used 3 full tablespoons and some Louisiana Style hot sauce for a little kick. Thanks again.

  28. Rebecca says:

    Sounds like a fancier version of Senate Bean Soup! Looks absolutely fantastic!

  29. Lindsey says:

    Yum! I made this today for friends who just had a baby. What a nice combination of flavors and nutrition!

  30. cpcable says:

    I made this soup a couple of nights ago. As soon as I read the recipe, I knew that it was the perfect way to use up some leftover ham. Absolutely delicious! I took the leftovers to work for lunch the next day and it reheated very well. So very warm, filling, and comforting. Yum!

  31. Jenn Fig says:

    I am making this soup right now and it’s so easy and already so tasty and it still has to simmer another hour. I cannot wait to eat it for dinner tonight! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I also used canned navy beans since I don’t have good luck soaking the dry beans.

  32. Murphy says:

    Excellent recipe with a slight modification of ingredients, I added a small can of diced green chili’s …priceless.

  33. Sharon says:

    Soaking my dried beans, and thought to saute my prepackaged diced ham before adding. Then I noticed the rather large tomato and decided I’d dice it into the sauteed ham to add to the beans as well. I won’t be making a soup per se, but rather just a nice flavorful pot of beans.

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