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Navy Bean Soup

Also known as Senate Bean Soup, it’s been a staple of the US Senate’s dining hall for over a century. A warm combination of beans, ham, and vegetables swimming in a savory broth.

Navy Bean Soup


  • 3 cups of dried navy beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 pound of cooked ham, cubed
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh or dried parsley (for finishing)


  1. Place the beans into a large stock pot and cover with at least two inches of water.
  2. Set the pot on the stove over high heat until the water starts to boil.
  3. Lower the heat and allow the beans to simmer for five minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for an hour.
  5. Drain the beans of the water.
  6. Add in the tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, ham, broth, and bay leaves.
  7. Fill the pot with enough water to leave 2-3 inches of liquid above the mixture.
  8. Place the pot back on the stove and bring the soup to a boil.
  9. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to your taste before finishing.

Quick Notes

The whole process with the beans is a quicker way to soften them for cooking. Usually you would soak dried beans for 4-8 hours, but boiling them a bit speeds up the process. Plus if this soup is going to sit in the refrigerator, the beans will stay more solid as opposed to turning to mush by not fully softening them.

The reason why you season with salt and pepper at the end is because the ham might add more saltiness as it cooks. Thus waiting until the soup is done will allow you to more accurately tweak the final flavor.


You can variate this one all over. I've seen some add potatoes, other vegetables, or even no vegetables beyond the onion. My father usually doesn't put ham into his soup, which is ideal if you want to go vegetaran. You could use vegetable broth if you want to go fully vegan.

My soup is usually more on the brothy side with the beans retaining their shape. If you prefer a thicker, more dense soup, then take some of the beans out at the end, purée them in a food processor, and then stir the purée back into the soup as a thickening agent. You could also simmer the soup for an additional hour to break the beans down more.

Healthy It Up

You can keep the fat content low by using a lean ham or a turkey ham. I also like to use a low sodium broth.

Serving Suggestions

Garnish your soup with parsley before serving. It just adds a little kick to the flavor and a little green color to the mixture.

Tags: American, soup, navy bean, ham, senate

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