For some reason, every year, when the weather starts to warm up I suddenly want to make some kind of beans in my Crockpot. I know that it is supposed to be a winter thing, but it happens to me every year. Maybe it’s because I get my air conditioner kickin’ and it’s nice and cool inside, I am not really sure. Whatever the reason, it is what it is, so I thought I would share how to make a super delicious navy bean and ham soup. I made it a week or so ago. It is way easy and better than anything I have had in a restaurant for years.
Most recipes you will find call for a ham bone. I did not have one, nor could I easily find one at the store. So I saved time and money by skipping the bone, using precooked ham, and just adding more initial flavor to my broth.
Ingredients you will need for this simple and delicious recipe:
- 16 oz bag Navy Beans
- 32 oz Chicken Broth
- 1 Celery Stalk (sliced)
- 1 Carrot (peeled and sliced)
- 1 large Clove of Garlic (diced)
- 1/2 large onion or 1 small onion (I used a yellow onion)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease (optional, but awesome- we always have a jar in the fridge)
- 1/2 of a large Ham Steak (about 1/2 a pound)
Soak the Beans!
A few years back I made some beans without soaking them long enough. It was not a good move. I ended up getting super bad gas…that may be too much information, but I think I should give you all fair warning. Do not skip this step! I know it sucks, because you have to plan a day ahead, but it is a necessity.
So, with that said, soak your bag of beans for at least 8-12 hours. On this last batch I actually let them soak for about 21 hours, and I can honestly say both of us were gas free (even after chowing down two bowls each!).
Sort and Rinse
Waiting for the beans to soak is the hardest part of this recipe. Once they have completed their soak you can go ahead and pick out any discolored beans, and any that look weird, or float. Just stick your hands in the bowl a move them around a few times, so you get a view of them. I usually only have to pick out a few, and maybe a little pebble once in a while.
It should only take you like one minute to dig around in the beans, if that. Once you are done, drain and rinse the beans.
Throw it all in the Crockpot
I am not a big fan of celery, so I just slice up one stalk for flavor. Same with carrots, I don’t mind them so much, but they add a lot of sweetness, so one sliced carrot does the job of flavoring without dragging down the savoriness of the meal.
Onion adds great flavor, but can also add a sweet hint to food, although not as much as carrots. So, I went with half of a large onion sliced, and one large clove of garlic diced up.
Now just take the beans, the broth, all the veggies, and a bay leaf and throw it in the Crockpot. I also added a table spoon of bacon grease to add a little extra flavor since I wasn’t using a ham bone.( Make sure you put the lid on the Crockpot–just in case you weren’t sure)
Since our ham is already cooked, you will just be cutting up into small cubes and adding it at the very end of the cooking process.
I like to get my Crockpot going on high heat to begin with, so put it on high with all the stuff in it and let it go for about an 45 mins to an hour. Then turn it down to low, don’t take the lid off. I let mine cook for another 4 hours or so, then I can;t take it anymore and I have to check it out. Take off the lid and sample a few beans…be careful! It will be very hot. If they are nice and soft, you can take a big spoon and mash a few of them up on the bottom and stir to thickening the soup. Go ahead and add your ham now, put the lid back on and cook for about 1/2 an hour longer for everything to meld together.
If the beans weren’t done when you checked them, put the lid back on and cook them for another hour until tender. Do not add the ham until the beans are cooked, otherwise your ham will get overcooked, dry, and flavorless, and that would really suck.
Spicing it Up
If you like to spice things up like I do, you can add some crushed red pepper to the pot at the beginning of the process. You could also try adding some diced up pepper of your choice, like habanero or jalapeno, but this may alter the flavor slightly.
What I prefer to do, so that the whole family can enjoy the bean soup without enduring my love of spiciness, is just add hot sauce to my own bowl of deliciousness. My typical go to hot sauce for a meal like this is good ol’ Tabasco, but others are good too. A nice smokey hot sauce can pair well with this dish, like the Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce. That tasted great with it also. Personally, I would avoid any tangy cayenne sauces, like Franks or Louisiana style hot sauces. I know some people like to put these on everything, but I find them overpowering and not cohesive with certain meals. So, steer clear of those here if you can. There are so many other flavor choices that can enhance the flavor of the beans, rather than just drown them out.
Navy Bean and Ham Soup Wrap Up
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this post and learned how to make a delicious navy bean and ham soup. I promise you this is better than most any soup you find at a local restaurant. It was so good we each ate 2 big bowls of this in one sitting!
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!