Mom’s Navy Beans Recipe
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This navy beans recipe of my mom’s makes a simple comfort food classic. Tender, seasoned white beans and veggies in a flavorful broth. Be sure to watch the how-to video located in the recipe card.
My mom taught me many things, but cooking and sharing our love for good food was something we both loved to do together. When she passed away, my Dad asked if I wanted anything of hers. My request was to go through her cookbooks and personal recipes. I love that I’m able to pass on my favorites and keep my memories of her alive.
Here is her simple, yet satisfying white beans recipe, which I’ve always loved. It’s a flavorful white bean soup. You can add sliced franks or shredded meat to stretch the meal, and it’s a perfect way to use fresh vegetables and pantry staples you already have on hand!
Navy beans, also known as pea beans (named for their tiny round size), are one of a few different varieties of white beans. Other common white beans are Great Northern, cannellini, fagioli, and lima.
Although they grow differently, and vary in size and shape, all white beans are interchangeable in most recipes. They all have a white casing and starchy, creamy center.
This is a navy beans recipe, but you’re welcome to use any type of white bean that you like or already have on hand.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Nothing complicated about the ingredients in this white beans recipe. It calls for staple soup ingredients; onion, carrots and celery. To help flavor the broth, there’s a bit of crushed garlic and thyme.
For a heartier meal, you can add any type of cooked protein. Oftentimes, I like to add shredded chicken, leftover holiday ham or boneless turkey breast.
If you use fagioli beans and add cooked pasta and Italian sausage, it could a homemade version of Olive Garden’s pasta fagioli!
Video: Making Mom’s white beans recipe
The meal comes together really quickly after soaking the beans in water overnight.
Watch the video in the recipe card below to see me make the navy white bean soup from start to finish.
Did you forget to soak your white beans?
If you forget or don’t have time to soak beans overnight, it’s okay. Just use my method to quick soak beans and an hour later, you’ll be ready to make this navy beans recipe.
This recipe makes the perfect comfort food lunch or dinner; great at taking the winter chill off your bones. Serve with a salad and loaf of crusty french bread or my gramma’s potato rolls. It’s a wonderful, cozy and comforting navy white bean soup.
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This post, first published on Kevin Is Cooking Jan. 10, 2014, was last updated with new content and video on Dec. 9, 2021.
Mom’s Navy Beans Recipe + Video
- 16 oz dried navy beans or other white beans
- 1 large yellow onion chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 large carrots chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 stalks celery chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 4 sprigs thyme tied, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Add dried white beans to large pot, then enough water to cover beans by 1 inch. Allow beans to soak for 8 hours. To save time, feel free to quick soak beans.
- Heat olive oil in large soup or stock pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use a colander to drain and rinse soaked beans. Add beans to the stock pot of sautéed vegetables and stir to incorporate. Add bundle of thyme sprigs (or dried thyme), garlic and fresh water to cover beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover pot and lower heat to simmer; Cook for 4 hours or until beans are soft, but not mushy (See Note 1). To make this navy beans recipe in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, see Note 2.
- Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
- At this stage it can be seasoned to reflect whatever type of soup you want, be it French with thyme and tarragon, Mexican with cumin, Italian with Italian herbs, etc.
You can also add fresh franks from the butcher and cook for an additional 20 minutes, but sometimes I like to add chicken.
- If using a slow cooker cook on high for 4 hours. If using an Instant Pot, use manual setting to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, then perform a Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes.
- Per Nutrition Facts on 16 ounces dried beans: Serving Size 1/4 cup dried, Servings per container about 12. Beans double in volume when cooked, so this would be a 1/2 cup serving, not counting other ingredients.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
My grown son and I were having soup. He was having clam chowder and I just did not want any soups that I had in the pantry. I love navy beans so got a can out and found your recipe. I cut up part of a carrot and some of an onion ( I did not have celery) pepper and garlic powder. I put a little over a teaspoon of roasted chicken bouillon paste enough water to cover in a small bowl and microwaved it for a minute and a half. Then I added the beans and the carrot and onion mixture and microwaved that for 2 1/2 minutes. My soup was ready by the time my son had made toasted cheese sandwiches to go with the soups. I wanted plain not fancy navy bean soup and your recipe gave it to me. Thank you for the recipe.
So glad you enjoyed this Lona. Cheers! 🙂
Prefect my dad even went back for seconds
So sorry for the late reply as I have been away on a much needed vacation outside the USA. Needless to say, about your inquiry… Love to read comments like this. Thanks Caryl!
This is perfect I was cooking pasta fajolia and had only used one cup of the bag so decided I needed to use those extra beans up after letting them soak all night.. so this is what I chose to do with is so I can freeze and have an extra meal when I am not up to cooking.. so Ill add a meat with it after.. I have made this before it was yummy!!
Fantastic, thanks for letting me know Mary! 🙂
I would suggest checking the beans a lot earlier so they dont get too soft. I had to add a lot of hot sauce and Braggs for taste
Thanks for trying this one Molly.
Thanks for trying this one Mike!
I live in East Texas and its 8 degrees outside! Go figure! I just put a pot on for my veggie husband. Two college daughters are up and more adult children to come later. Crazy I had all the indgredients in the fridge. Merry Christmas from a Working Cattle Ranch!
Merry Christmas to you and your family, too Elizabeth. It’s 19°F this morning here in Portland and this pot of beans sounds like a great idea to me! 🙂
Stay warm! It was 8 yesterday am! The soup was wonderful! Thank you! My son lived in Hood River, yes…a kiter. Beautiful location!
Can this soup be frozen?
Definitely, I do it all the time when I make large batches Susu!
Thanks so much Kathy!
Have the navy beans quick soaking now for soup and cornbread tonight. Just like Mom and Granny used to make. Youngest son texted from work to ask if he could join us for a home cooked meal tonight, when he heard this soup on the menu!
Always plenty of soup in our pot to share!
Food brings the family together, right?! That’s wonderful, glad you follow along here Teresa. Cheers!
I’ll be making this wonderful recipe often.
I love a forgiving recipe like this. I had a little bit of leftover roasted potato and raw fennel bulb, so I threw them in with good results.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your beans! I soaked my cannellinis overnight, and they cooked in way less time than four hours.
Appreciate you coming back to let me know Brenda, thanks!