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Navy Bean and Ham Soup Recipe: Cooking with Dried Beans

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamDried beans. 

I can't say enough good things about them.

You can stretch a dollar and your food budget with dried beans and peas.

A pound bag cost around $1.00 around here. More or less.

Bean soup

Dried beans are also an excellent source of protein and fiber, low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol or sugar. Most beans, especially blackeyes, contain high levels of folate, the B vitamin that can help prevent certain birth defects and heart diseases.

Blackeyed peas

Over the years I have stretched a many a meal with dried beans. I usually cook the dried beans one day to have with a meal.

Beans with a meal.

And then I use the left over beans for soup the next day or so. These are navy beans.

Navy beans with ham

Pinto and kidney beans I use for chili. I have used the northern or navy beans also in chili.

Always check the beans for any small stones that may be in with the beans. I have found stones in with dried beans before.  Always rinse the beans good before cooking.

To cook dried beans: I put half a regular size bag of beans (if your family is large use a whole bag) in a saucepan.  Fill above the beans 3 or 4 inches with water and bring to a boil.  Boil for a minute or 2 and turn the heat off. Let the beans soak for an hour or 2. You can even soak overnight without boiling.

Pour that water off they are soaking in. That water has the gas power in it. (You know, bean gas.)

Refill the pan with water covering 3 or 4 inches because the beans will swell when cooking.

I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

You can also use bouillon cubes or meat to season the beans.

When I boil a chicken or cook a beef roast I save the broth and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I use the cubes for seasoning beans and soups.

Chicken broth frozen in cubes

Bring the beans to a boil then turn the burner down to low or warm and simmer.

Black eyed peas you will only need to cook 30-45 minutes. Pinto, Great Northern, Kidney, Navy beans will need to simmer 1-2 hours until tender.

Refrigerate the leftover beans. I think the beans are always better the 2nd day. The seasonings and flavor mingle over night.

The you can get creative and make soups.

One soup we like is Navy bean and ham. Over the years I have adjusted what we like in it, and you can do the same. Just add or substitute vegetables and ingredients your family likes.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans
5 cups of water
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 cup of diced tomatoes (or 1 16-ounce can of diced tomatoes with or without the liquid)
chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic minced
6 ounces of cooked ham, about 1 cup (I use left over ham from the night before)
1 and 1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach or cabbage
(I also add some sliced bell pepper.)
On the seasonings, just add what you have or like. Sometimes I just add a dash of Italian seasoning instead of the other spices. The idea is to save money and use what you have.
Add beans, water, carrots, onions, celery, bouillon cube,basil, thyme, pepper, bay leaves, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Stir in ham, tomatoes, spinach or cabbage. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Discard bay leaves.

If you don't eat meat or care for ham you can just leave it out. It is still a good vegetable soup without the meat. With the dried beans it will still has a lot of protein. Or you can add other meat like chicken if that is your left overs on hand.

Navy bean and ham soup

This is great with fresh baked corn bread!

Does your family eat dried beans? What is your favorite recipes using them?

Have a great day!

charlie greene
5/9/2010 7:48:47 PM

Great soup for those "colder" days ahead! Thanks Mountain Girl!

4/20/2010 9:10:29 AM

Hey Cindy, Your soup sounds great! I love to just mix and match things left over in the fridge and have a Friday soup. I do prefer canning soup too. But I suppose I don't over cook the dried beans and it helps with them not being terrible mushy from the freezer. I will have to try your soup toppings too! Have a great day. pam

cindy murphy
4/18/2010 5:36:33 PM

The blogs around here lately are getting dangerous - they're all making me hungry! That bean soup of yours is no exception, Pam. I didn't like bean soup until recently - a couple of years, maybe. My favorite is uses dried mixed beans; it's got split peas, lentils, Great Northern beans, red beans, black-eyed peas, and whatever other beans bring the total to seven different kinds. I soak them overnight, and then cook them pretty much like Dave - in the crock-pot with a ham bone, spices and herbs, and water. Always enough for left-overs the next day for dinner, to take to lunch, and pawn off on the neighbors. I've never had luck freezing it though; what's your trick? Mine always turns to mush. I also like Great Northern beans mixed with fresh salsa, and topped with cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of fine bread crumbs. Pop it in the oven 'til heated through and the cheese gets melty and gooey. Serve with a big old plop of sour cream. Yum!

4/16/2010 5:29:41 AM

Hi MountainWoman! No black eyed peas? I can't imagine that! What about crowder peas? We are planting black crowders and brown crowder peas today. I hope to be freezing lots of packs of them in July and August. Thanks for taking time to comment. Have a great weekend. Pam

mountain woman
4/15/2010 1:42:15 PM

Pam, I'm hungry now for sure and with more snow moving in (supposedly) beans sound perfect. I loved the photos and the recipes and I'll share them with Mountain Man. We also try to stretch dollars here so your post was very helpful to me. Oh, and send me some black eyed peas please. We don't get them up here :( Cheers to my farm sister!

4/15/2010 5:51:20 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave, I like to use ham bones too. Cornbread, that is what my husband loves with soup, especially vegetable soup. I like your idea of canning the leftover soup. I usually just freeze the leftovers but I can jars and jars of vegetable soup in the summer. Thank-you for the comment. I enjoyed reading how you use beans and about your soup making! Pam

nebraska dave
4/14/2010 5:06:57 PM

Pam, Mom used to make bean soup which was similiar to your recipe and was a complete meal in itself. To supplement the meal homemade bread still warm from the oven with fresh churned butter was really all was needed for the meal to be complete. I use the crock pot for my bean soup. The meat flavoring comes from the left over ham bone from a previous ham meal. I always buy the bone in ham so that it can be used for bean soup. I too heat up the beans in the crock pot then turn off the pot to let them soak over night. Then in goes the ham bone, carrots, onions, and other seasoning. I usually cook the whole bag which makes a huge pot of soup. I eat my fill and pull out the canning jars and can the rest. That way for this single guy the soup lasts a long time and when ever I get a hankering for more bean soup, which is quite often, all I have to do is pull a jar out of the pantry and heat it up. For me canning is not just for the end of season preservation but is a way to preserve just about any large quantity. Casseroles are another favorite of mine and left over casserole goes in the freezer. I really should invest in a vacuum packer as I do get a little freezer burn now and then. I do love beans. For me there is no such thing as a bad bean dish. For gatherings and food days those that know me always expect beans. I don't disappoint them.