Grandpa’s Bean Soup

Grandpa’s Bean Soup

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My Grandpa made the best Navy bean soup. I always thought it was because he served in the Navy during the Korean War. I imagined him on the ship, peeling potatoes, working in the kitchen. Most of my memories of Grandpa are in his basement listening to the American Graffiti soundtrack on the record player, or in the kitchen – in everybody’s kitchens.

This is a simple soup for a cold day, and I like to make all my soups “chunky” so I did alter the original recipe, just a bit.

Grandpa’s Ingredients

  • dry navy beans (1 lb.)
  • water (7 c.)
  • diced cooked ham (2 c.)
  • minced onion (1/4 c.)
  • salt, pepper
  • bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp vinegar
Navy Bean Soup Ingredients

My Alterations

  • Ham bone
  • 2 carrots (3 if they’re small)
  • 2 celery ribs
  • garlic 1/2 tsp
  • basil 1/2 tsp
  • fresh parsley

Original Instructions

  • Bring beans to a boil for 2 minutes (with vinegar), then remove from heat and let stand 1 hr.
  • Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 hr + 15 minutes
  • Skim off foam & remove bay leaf
Bean Soup Cooking

Additional Instructions

  • First, rinse the beans and pick out any “bad ones”
  • Dice the extra veggies, and sautee them all in 2 Tbsp. butter before adding to the soup, making the onion just brown.
  • After simmering one hour, remove the bone. If it has ham on it, remove the ham, cut it up and put it back in the pot.
  • Scoop about 3 ladles of beans & soup into a blender cup & blend it with your hand mixer. Add it back to the pot and continue cooking for remainder.

When I made this for the first time, I must not have boiled the beans fully before removing it from the heat, because my beans were still really firm. I ended up bringing it to a boil again and simmering it for another 2 hours. And because I used the mixer to make the soup base thicker, I forgot to skim the soup.

About the vinegar: this reduces the “gasiness” of the beans. You can also use baking soda instead.

This bean soup is rich, thick and chunky. I’ll probably have to add a bit more water to the leftovers when I reheat it.

Grandpa's Bean Soup

Alteration Ideas

  • use Cannellini beans instead of navy beans
  • Cook in a chicken broth base
  • Add bacon (or cook it with bacon, then remove it)
  • Use canned beans and significantly reduce the cooking time (total simmering time: 20 minutes)
  • Add paprika
  • Slow Cooker: First bring beans to a boil on the stove, then pour into crock pot with all other ingredients. Cook on Low 10 hours, or High for 1 hour, then Low for 7 hours.

Ham Bone Tip: Be sure the bone is completely submerged. Add more water as necessary.

Grandpa’s Bean Soup

A rich and tasty navy bean soup for a stormy day.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time2 hours 25 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 265kcal
Cost: 6


  • 1 lb dry navy beans
  • tsp vinegar
  • 7 c water
  • 2 c cubed, cooked ham
  • ¼ c minced onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Extra Ingredients

  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 celery ribs, halved then sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder


  • Rinse beans & pick out any bad ones. Bring beans to a boil with water & vinegar for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hr.
  • Prep the onion, carrot & celery, then saute them in 2 Tbsp butter.
  • Add remaining ingredients & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
  • Remove ham bone & bay leaf. Remove any leftover ham from the bone, dice it, and add it back to the soup.
  • Scoop 3 ladles of beans & soup into a blender cup. Using your hand mixer, blend the contents of the cup, then pour back into soup. Continue cooking 15 minutes or until beans are soft.


Navy Bean Soup Nutrition Label

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