Navy Bean Soup Recipe (For Stove, Crockpot, Or Instant Pot)

Navy bean soup is filling, inexpensive comfort food.

My mom used to make us this hearty Navy Bean Soup regularly when I was a kid. The simple harmony of slowly simmered beans and pork was lost on me back then, but I’m happy to report that I’ve since seen the error of my ways. These days, I make this deliciously savory recipe throughout soup season — it’s perfect with a warm slice of homemade bread with butter!

The only real drawback of my mom’s navy bean recipe is that it’s a fully old fashioned, all-day crockpot affair. I rarely have the foresight to plan and execute crockpot recipes, so I’ve adapted her recipe so I can make it in my Instant Pot. (After all, I cook dry beans in my Instant Pot all the time, so this felt like a natural next step!)

The Instant Pot recipe is super fast and super delicious, but I’ve also included the original crockpot method for those who would prefer make this recipe the old fashioned way. (No crockpot? No problem — you can make it on your stovetop just as easily!)

Rinse the beans for the navy bean soup in a colander, and check for foreign objects.

What Are Navy Beans, And Why Are They Called That?

Navy beans are small, white beans, sometimes called pea beans or white pea beans. They are smaller than great northern beans or Cannellini beans (which are white kidney beans), and they’re often used to make baked beans. The U.S. Navy has been feeding them to its sailors since the 1800s, earning them the nickname “navy beans” that they’ve had ever since!

Navy beans are a healthy food, too. A half cup of navy beans has 128 calories, 9.6 grams of fiber, and 23.7 grams of complex carbohydrates. Not only are they high in fiber, but you can even use beans in baking to cut fat and calories. But enough about beans — let’s get to that soup!

Easy Navy Bean Soup Recipe

The ingredients for basic navy bean soup are simple.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 slices smoked bacon, chopped (or 1 smoked ham hock)
  • 10 cups water or chicken broth (or a combination)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Bacon is a great addition to navy bean soup.

Directions:

Pressure Cooker Directions

Place the chopped bacon in your Instant Pot, select the Sauté function, then cook until the bacon starts getting crispy and add the chopped onions. Rinse the beans well, then when the bacon is crisp and the onions are soft, add the rinsed beans, water (and/or stock), and salt and pepper. (The soup turns out just fine using water, but stock lends a deeper, more savory flavor.)

Place the lid on your Instant Pot, press the Manual or Pressure Cook button, then set to cook on high pressure for 23 minutes. When the timer goes off, let the pot release pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then use the Quick Release valve to release any pressure remaining in the pot.

Use a ladle to scoop out some of the beans and blend until smooth in your blender to thicken your Navy Bean Soup .

Bonus Tip: If your soup looks a bit thin, use a ladle to scoop out some of the beans and blend them in your blender until they’re silky smooth. Add the blended beans back to the soup and stir well.

Serve your bean and bacon soup warm, topped some chopped fresh parsley, if desired. This truly is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes!

To serve Navy Bean Soup, sprinkle it with some chopped parsley.

Crockpot Directions

To make this soup in your crockpot, start by soaking the dry beans for several hours, or overnight. Rinse the soaked beans well and place them in your slow cooker.

Fill your crockpot about three-quarters of the way full with water (or stock, or a bit of both), then add the onions and a ham shank or hock, and season with salt and pepper. (Bacon works just fine if you’re making this in a pressure cooker, but for the crockpot method, it’s critical to use a ham hock! If you’re not sure where to find one, ask at the meat counter at the grocery store.)

Turn your crockpot on low and let the soup cook all day (about 6-10 hours), then serve warm.

Whether you use bacon, ham, or a ham hock, meat is a flavorful addition to Navy Bean Soup.

Stovetop Directions

Looking for a quicker cooking time, but don’t want to use a pressure cooker (or don’t have one)? This method is a great option!

The night before you plan to have the soup, sort through the dry beans and remove any small stones or debris, then rinse them thoroughly before soaking the beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans, then store them in the fridge until you’re ready to make the soup.

Around 3 hours before dinnertime, heat some olive oil in a large soup pot, then sauté the onion until soft. Add the beans, ham hock, salt, and black pepper, then cover with the water and/or chicken or veggie stock and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Once it boils, lower the heat down to simmer and let the soup cook for at least 2 to 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If you need to add liquid, make sure it’s hot first — cold water could make the beans turn out tough, rather than tender.) Serve warm, garnished with parsley or other fresh herbs.

Sauté the chopped onion and bacon for Navy Bean Soup.

Tasty Add-In & Other Suggestions

While there’s a delicious simplicity to this great recipe, there are plenty of ways to adjust it to suit your taste and preferences. While sautéing the onions, you could add some diced carrots and celery or minced garlic. Try adding a bay leaf or sprig of fresh thyme as the soup simmers, discarding it before serving.

To add more delicate vegetables like peas, add those about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time (in your crockpot or on your stove top, obviously). You could even add cooked, pureed veggies (like squash, carrots, or peas) to the soup and cook for 5 minutes more — it’s an easy way to eat more vegetables and make your soup more flavorful.

The sky’s the limit with bean soups like these, so add whatever veggies, herbs, and spices the whole family will enjoy. (Got a leftover ham bone or some chopped ham? Toss it in for added meaty flavor!)

Navy bean soup is filling, inexpensive comfort food.

Storing Leftover Navy Bean Soup

Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in your fridge for up to one week, or freeze it for up to 3 months. (To freeze the soup, let it cool completely, then seal in a freezer-safe container.)

To reheat frozen soup leftovers, thaw them in your fridge overnight and reheat on the stove. You can also freeze the soup in individual servings and and reheat them in your microwave (a great option to have when you get home late and need a quick meal!)

You don't have to soak the beans for Navy Bean Soup but it cooks faster if you do.

BONUS: 2 Quick Shortcuts For Soaking Beans

Forgot to soak your dry beans overnight? Here are a couple of ways to speed up the process and soften beans fast:

  • Recommended Shortcut: To soak 16 ounces of beans, cook them in 10 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and cover the beans for 4 hours. Rinse and drain before using.
  • Even Quicker Shortcut: Cook 16 ounces of beans in 6 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour or more.

Have you ever made navy bean soup from scratch?

navy bean soup

Old Fashioned Navy Bean Soup

Jill Nystul
The delicious simplicity of my mom’s navy bean soup was lost on me as a child, but I’ve since seen the error of my ways! It’s deliciously savory and goes perfectly with a warm slice of buttered bread.
3.43 from 42 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Slow Release: 10 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 266 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 16 oz dry navy beans
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 ham hock or 3 slices smoked bacon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 cups water or chicken broth

Instructions
 

Instant Pot Version

  • Chop 3 slices of bacon, place them in your Instant Pot, and turn on the “Sauté” function.
  • When the bacon starts getting crispy, add the chopped onions and cook until they're soft.
  • Add the beans, water and/or stock, and salt and pepper, then place the lid on the pot, select Manual or Pressure Cook, cook on High for 23 minutes.
  • Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then Quick Release the remaining pressure.
  • To thicken the soup, scoop out some of the beans, blend until smooth, then stir them back into the soup.
  • Serve with fresh parsley, if desired.

Crockpot Version

  • Soak the beans overnight, then rinse, drain, and add them to your crockpot.
  • Fill the crockpot 3/4 of the way with water, then add the chopped onion, a ham hock, and salt and pepper. (The ham hock is crucial in this version!)
  • Turn your crockpot on low cook all day.
  • Serve with fresh parsley, if desired.

Stove Top Version

  • Soak beans overnight, drain, rinse, and sort out any small stones.
  • Refrigerate beans until 3 hours before dinner time.
  • Sauté onion and bacon (if using) in large soup pot.
  • Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 19gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 71mgPotassium: 770mgFiber: 14gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 0.3IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 3mg

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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3.43 from 42 votes (42 ratings without comment)

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29 Comments

  1. This recipe was almost exact to my mother’s. She used more ham on the bone. I still make it, and it is delicious. I love using the dry beans because they have body when the soup is done. I love this soup dearly, and would never substitute great northern beans or any other. Navy beans are sooo delicious!!

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  2. My IP is only the the 6 qt. and though I’ve never cooked navy beans in it, I found that it will only handle 1 lb. of pinto beans. do you think the 6 qt would handle 2 lbs, of navy since they are much smaller?

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    • Yes – I used a 6-quart IP for this recipe :-)

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  3. I have a question- usually when doing beans you drain the water they soak in and this helps with gas issues! When you put dry beans in the pressure cooker, you don’t drain them. Does this result in extra gas issues?

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  4. I cook a similar navy bean soup and add onion, celery, carrot slices, home made ham broth, a ham bone, Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute spice blend, and diced ham.

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  5. Just finished this in my IP. Tastes great. Lots of flavor. I used a carton of chicken broth & the rest water. I did need to keep the saute button on for 30 min to thicken & smashed some beans on the side of the pot to add. Will make again

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  6. Hnnn, I feel like this soup needs some seasoning. I puréed about 1/2 the beans to thicken it a bit, but I find the taste a little flat.this is the first recipe I’ve made in my instant pot.

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    • I’m sure that adding some more salt and pepper to the leftovers would help. Here’s some of my favorite Instant Pot recipes, I’m sure you’ll find a few that you love: http://jillee.co/2gye4iU

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  7. Can I ask what are the Navy beans??
    What is the UK’s equivalent please

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    • Haricot beans – small, oval, plump and creamy-white with a mild flavour and smooth, buttery texture. :-)

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  8. We grew beans in our garden, and these navy beans were simply called soup beans! Mom would simmer all day with ham pieces, then we had cornbread with it. Yum! Not cold here in middle Georgia but now I’ve got a hankering for bean soup

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  9. I’ve often shared meals like this with neighbors when I lived in an apartment that had a variety of people. most elderly, single people and overworked moms enjoy a meal they did not have to cook for themselves! I love to cook and have been surprised at how many people don’t know much at all about cooking.

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  10. I always add a pinch of baking soda while cooking to help cut down on the gas. LOL! My Mom would make a big pot of beans with the leftover ham bone and cook it until the meat fell off. She would make us baked beans with the leftovers and reserve a bowl of the plain one for herself. Now I have a hankering for a big bowl of beans. Hmmmm…..gotta go to the store and get some beans.

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  11. As a child (1 of 6 children) we had Navy bean soup and potato soup often. My mother would add carrots and celery to the potato soup, and carrots and onions to the bean soup. Funny thing is I can’t remember if she added potatoes to the bean soup.
    My husband prefers bean soup with potatoes and I can ignore the carrots as far as he’s concerned. I like to throw them in for color and a pop of extra nutrition.
    Several years ago I messed up the potato soup by putting too many carrots in it. I grated them instead of dicing. Whatever the cause the soup looked orange. It tasted fine to me, but no one else would eat it. I ended up throwing most of it out.
    After reading this I decided to have Navy bean soup tomorrow.

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    • Connie, I’m the oldest of 7 kids and was raised in the country. Mom made these pots of beans quite often and we either had the ‘white beans with ham’ or the ‘brown beans with beef’ at just about every supper. Mom was known for her homemade ‘cat head’ buttermilk biscuits so that’s was made for the white beans, but buttermilk cornbread went with the brown ones. On the side, we had slices of onion (for the ones that liked them), pickled beets, homemade pickles and a cold glass of milk. Yum!

      Jillee, thanks so much for this recipe. It brings back good memories of my childhood and because of this, I’ll be making a pot of white beans this weekend, for sure!

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      • Sounds delicious! :-)

  12. Can you use the ham hock in the instant pot version?

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  13. My mother would make this soup soaking the navy beans overnight. She used a hamhock and she added carrots and if I remember correctly, celery also. With her homemade cornbread, it was a delicious meal!!!

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  14. Mom made this in the ’50s and ’60s when we were growing up. They didn’t have crockpots back then, or at least we didn’t have one. You said “ham hock”, na, Mom used the rest of a ham so everyone got some ham pieces. She used a big pot on the stove and cooked it all day. If blenders were out there, we didn’t have that either. Mom just smuched up some of the beans with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot if it was too thin. It was served over long grain white rice(cooked for approx. 25 min.) I stirred the beans and rice together on my plate. The taste was wonderful! It was even better the second day.

    You have made me think of things from 50-60 years ago that I haven’t thought of in years. I would love to make some, but it’s hard to cook for one.

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    • Go for it, Maggie. Make a big pot and think of your mom all day as you smell it simmering, then pull out a couple of bowls for yourself, then take the rest to a neighbor or two. Share the love!

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      • I think we had the same grandmother. I too now need to go get a ham hock. Thanks everyone.

    • have you tried to use half a recipe and freezing it in meal size portions

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3.43 from 42 votes (42 ratings without comment)

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