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Easter Leftovers: Ham and Navy Bean Soup

I always wonder why it's called a Navy bean. Do they serve them in the Navy? Well, according to Wikipedia that's exactly why (because EVERYTHING is true on Wikipedia):

The navy bean, haricot, pearl haricot bean,[1] boston bean,[2] white pea bean,[3] or pea bean,[4] is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) native to the Americas, where it was domesticated.[5] It is a small, dry white bean which is smaller than many other types of white beans, and has an oval, slightly flattened shape.[1] It features in such dishes as baked beans,[1] various soups such as Senate bean soup,[6] and even pies.

The green bean plants[2] that produce navy beans may be either of the bush type or vining type, depending on which cultivar they are.[7]

Other white beans include cannellini, 'Great Northern', the lima beans known as "butter beans", and the runner bean.

The name "Navy bean" is an American term coined because the US Navy has served the beans as a staple to its sailors since the mid-1800s.[8]

In Australia, navy bean production began during World War II when it became necessary to find an economical way of supplying a nutritious food to the many troops - especially American troops - based in Queensland. The United States military maintained a large base in Kingaroy and had many bases and camps throughout south-east Queensland. It actively encouraged the widespread planting of the beans.[9] Kingaroy is known as the Baked Bean Capital of Australia.[10] Another popular name for the bean during this time was "the Yankee bean".[11]

So, there it is. But, they don't have Navy beans in as plentiful a supply at our common grocery stores, and I'm not the kind of girl to go searching around 50 stores if I can just get a REALLY close substitute. So I use either Cannellini Beans or Great Northern Beans, both of which are readily available at any grocery store.

I'm most excited in Spring to serve a ham at our "Spring Fling" get together and then make this soup the very next day. You should do the same. You'll thank me later.

Ham and Navy Bean Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 2 hours / Servings 10-12


  • 1 large ham bone with meat (from a pre-cooked ham)

  • 1 cup leftover ham, chopped

  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 6 large green onions, chopped

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 large Russet potato, chopped

  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

  • 3 large, fresh bay leaves

  • 2 tbsp. Fresh thyme, chopped

  • 64 oz. chicken broth

  • 2 cans Navy, Great Northern or Cannellini beans (15.5 oz. each)

  • Salt/pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil on high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the celery, carrots, green onion, potato and garlic. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper, and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes until veggies are softened.

  2. Add the chopped, leftover ham, Cannellini beans (with liquid) and chicken broth. Stir in the thyme and bay leaves until all ingredients are combined. Add the ham bone last, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt/pepper when needed. Soup is done when all the leftover meat has fallen off the ham bone.

  3. Remove from the heat, discard the bone and bay leaves. Allow the soup to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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