Granny’s Navy Bean and Ham Soup is so tasty and the easiest recipe for bean soup! Thousands of readers have loved this soup over the years because not only is it delicious, but it’s also simple and uses mostly pantry ingredients or refrigerator staples. 

This is one of our favorite ways to use a leftover ham bone, but if you don’t have one – don’t worry! We’ll show you how to make the best navy bean and ham soup with whatever you’ve got!

Navy bean and ham soup in a bowl

This hearty ham and navy bean soup is a winner for dinner

As a fourth-generation Southern cook, I’ve been making some version of this soup for decades. The ingredients may change slightly based on what’s in the fridge or pantry, but the essence of the soup remains the same. Our family secret: canned beans! (And no, my great-grandmother did not use canned beans!) 

You’ll love how easy it is to put this soup together without having to soak beans overnight. And if you prefer to use dried beans, the recipe is totally adaptable for you to do that. 

If you’ve been saving a ham bone since Thanksgiving, now’s the time to pull it out and make this hearty Navy Bean Soup with Ham. This is one of my favorite cold-weather soups because it sticks to your ribs and warms you from the inside.

And the bonus is that although the soup is filling, it’s low in calories due to the beans.

I always keep some of this Navy Bean and Ham Soup in the freezer and usually make it several times throughout the year. The saltiness from the ham, combined with the creaminess of the beans and a slight touch of sweet carrot, makes for a wonderful soup to share with friends or just have at home for family.

**Cook’s Tip: If you don’t have a ham bone lurking about in your freezer, then you can buy a couple of ham hocks at the grocery store or your local butcher.

If you’re looking for more great soup recipes, be sure and check out our Chicken and Corn Chowder, Cheeseburger Soup, and our famous Chili without Beans.

Navy bean and ham soup ingredients

The beauty of this soup is that it’s mostly pantry and fridge staples, so no extra runs to the store. If you don’t have something, leave it out! (Unless it’s the beans or the ham, those are kind of essential.)

  • Navy beans – about four cans
  • Unsalted butter
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Chicken stock
  • Smoked ham hocks or 1 ham bone
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • Bay leaves
  • Diced cooked ham
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bacon – cooked crispy and crumbled

How to make ham and bean soup with canned beans

This Navy Bean and Ham Soup takes a couple of hours to cook, but the prep is fairly quick. The only chopping involved is with the vegetables: onion, celery, and one carrot.

And you can dice up some of the ham from your ham hocks, too, unless you just want to use the package of already diced ham.

Step 1. Start by cooking the chopped onions, carrot, and celery in melted butter in a large Dutch oven for about five minutes, then add garlic.

Step 2. Next you’ll pour in chicken stock and stir, then add the beans, ham hocks, herbs, and diced ham. If you wanted a meatless meal, you could make plain Navy Bean Soup—but it’s so much better with a little ham to give it a nice, succulent flavor.

Step 3. Simmer the navy bean soup for a couple of hours, then chop the ham from the ham hocks.

Serving of soup in a bowl. 

Helpful tools for making bean and ham soup

The great thing about this Navy Bean Soup with ham recipe is that you don’t need any fancy tools, just a great soup pot like this one. And you could always use some of these freezer containers to make it easy to save leftovers.

I bought a set of those deli containers last year, and they have been so useful! You get about 24 in a set and can use them for so many things.

Navy bean and ham soup recipe tips

Navy Bean and Ham soup is fairly easy to make and takes a couple of hours to cook unless you’re using dried beans, in which case you need to account for the time you have to soak the beans.

**Cook’s Tip: I usually just use canned navy beans, but either works fine.

How do you thicken navy bean and ham soup?

The easiest way to thicken navy bean and ham soup is to take some of the beans out and mash them with a fork, then stir them back into the soup.

If you want it even thicker, you can always add a little cornstarch slurry.

You may also like…
Easy Potato Soupmade with frozen potatoes and ready in less than one hour!

What to serve with navy bean soup with ham

We like good old-fashioned cornbread, but some nice crusty bread would be great as well. And some crumbled bacon on top is divine!

And I don’t usually serve anything else. This soup is so hearty it’s a complete meal.

But…there’s always room for dessert. How about a lovely Cream Cheese Pound Cake? Or our family’s favorite Fudge Pie?

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4.68 from 70 votes
Navy Bean and Ham Soup made with canned beans, ham hocks, carrots, celery, dried rosemary and thyme, and a little bacon for flavor.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Save This Recipe


  • 4 cans navy beans, rinsed and drained (unsalted if you can find them)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 large smoked ham hocks or 1 ham bone
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham (I buy the packet of diced ham in the meat dept. unless I have ham saved)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 bacon strips, cooked crispy and crumbled


  • In large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, and celery and saute for five minutes. Add garlic and saute for thirty seconds.
  • Add 1 and 1/2 quarts chicken stock, beans, ham hocks, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and diced ham. Add a little freshly ground black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You may need to add additional stock.
  • Remove ham hocks or ham bone and allow to cool enough to handle, then cut the meat off the bones and add to the pot along with the cup of diced ham. Discard the bones.
  • If you want to thicken the soup, remove about 2 cups of beans and puree in a blender then add back to the soup.
  • Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. The ham is usually salty so I don’t add much salt until I taste the soup. Serve with crumbled bacon on top.


**Cook’s Tips for Navy Bean and Ham Soup:
  • Use canned navy beans—easy and convenient!
  • Or you can substitute one pound bag of dried navy beans for the canned beans. You’ll need to soak the beans per package instructions. 
  • Use a package of diced ham that you can pick up in the meat department of your grocery store. 
  • To thicken the soup, take out some of the beans and puree then add back to the pot. 


Serving: 8servings, Calories: 73kcal
Course: Soups
Cuisine: American
Calories: 73
Keyword: navy bean and ham soup, navy bean soup, navy bean soup recipe, navy bean soup with ham
Love this recipe?Mention @southernfoodandfun or tag #southernfoodandfun!

More Soup Recipes to Try:

Chili without Beans

Easy Black Bean Soup

Easy Homemade Tomato Soup

Update Notes: This post was originally published January 7, 2015, and on October 25, 2018, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

Lucy standing behind a counter with a cheese board and glass of wine.

About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    I had made a smoked ham and used the bone and left over meat in the soup. It has the best flavor ever but it was a bit too salty – I would suggest using no sodium stock or broth. And as suggested adding the pureed beans (I puréed an additional can) helps to thicken the broth!
    Mangia mangia!

  2. 5 stars
    I soaked the beans per the recipe but there was a pinhole in the bag. I think it may have leaked into the bag.

  3. 5 stars
    !made this yesterday and loved it! I did use an extra can of beans that I made a paste of and added to the pot to thicken instead of using some of the beans already in the soup. This is a keeper. I will make it often.

  4. 5 stars
    I had a leftover ham hock and some ham slices from a Honey Baked Ham so used that for this recipe. Also used Great Northern beans instead of navy since that’s what I had on hand. Added a little more celery and carrots. So delicious. My husband raved about it. I did thicken it a little at the end with some cornstarch since I prefer my soup not to be “brothy”. Very easy to put together. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this when my husband were vacationing in Lake Tahoe this past December. The best ever! It’s simmering as I write this! This is the third time I’ve made it. I love it! Thank you for sharing it!

  6. Can you use Randall Great Northern beans in the jar and not rinse then or drain them. They are ready to eat and fully cooked.

    1. I would use dried beans and soak them overnight, then cook on low for 7-8 hours. Not sure how the canned beans would do in the slow cooker.

  7. 5 stars
    I have never had any success making bean soup. I must have tried a hundred different recipes. This recipe, WOW. It is easy to make and the taste is exceptional. Everyone I gave some to raved about it. I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 stars
    I have never had any success making bean soup. I must have tried a hundred different recipes. This recipe, WOW. It is easy to make and the taste is exceptional. Everyone I gave some to raved about it. I highly recommend it.