Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup

Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup recipe is a delicious way to use up your holiday ham bone!

Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe
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Chances are, after yesterday’s holiday dinner you have a nearly-naked ham bone in your refrigerator at this very moment.

Maybe you even finished off your ham to the point of placing the ham bone in the freezer for future use.

Either way, today I want to show you exactly how to use your leftover ham bone, to make the most of every last bite of flavor your baked ham can offer!

My Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Navy bean soup is the food of my childhood. It’s rich, filling, comforting, and can feed a large crowd on a small budget.

Growing up with five kids in our family, and a string of tag-along neighborhood friends, my mom made a lot of meals that could either be stretched to feed extra guests, or could be eaten as leftovers.

Nana's Perfect Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

One of my favorite childhood meals was Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup, i.e. navy bean soup simmered with a leftover ham bone.

My mom (now known as Nana) had a special gift for using her resources wisely. Nothing went to waist, ever. All leftovers were either eaten or repurposed, even bones.

Our Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup was a meal we ate somewhat regularly, every time a ham graced our table.

Nowadays it seems like we only bake a ham a couple times a year. Yet as a child, I remember having ham at least once a month.

Maybe because it is a food that is so easily stretched and repurposed?

Nana's Easy Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Navy Bean Soup

But I digress… Adding a ham bone to soup is a marvelous way to create rich flavor, finish off the last scraps of ham left on the bone, and eliminate the need to buy soup stock.

A ham bone boiled in water develops a lovely soup base on its own!

Making Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Although Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup recipe, varied from time to time, depending on what veggies and spices she found in the kitchen, I’m sharing the most simplified version with you today.

With just a handful of ingredients, including a ham bone and an inexpensive bag of dried navy beans, you can make a rustic hearty deeply satisfying meal your whole family will love.

PS – If you didn’t have ham for you holiday dinner, you can buy a ham bone from the butcher for next to nothing.

Nana's Best Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

How to Make Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup

Start by soaking dried beans in water overnight to prep them for cooking.

This does take thought to prepare ahead, but it also saves money (on canned beans) reduces sodium, and gives the beans a better texture.

How to Make Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Next sauté the ham bone, onions, and garlic in a little oil. This browns the leftover ham, and softens and sweetens the aromatics.

Then add in the soaked beans, herbs, spices, and water. Simmer the soup for at least an hour to soften the beans and draw the flavor out of the ham bone.

Nana's Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Do not add any salt until the soup is fully cooked. Ham bones have a lot of salt in them, and it’s easy to over do it if you salt the soup too early.

That’s it!

Nana's Best Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

You can add any additional vegetable, herbs, or spices you like. Or add extra ham scraps you might want to use up.

You can freeze Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup for later quickie meals. Even consider pureeing it into incredible bean dip to eat with tortilla chips.

Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Next time you buy a ham, make sure to grab a bag of dried beans as well. You won’t be sorry!

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Simple Egg Drop Soup

Spring Pea Wasabi Soup

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup


Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup Recipe - A simple, yet utterly addictive, ham and bean soup recipe is a great way to use your leftover holiday ham bone.
Servings: 8 Servings
Nutrition Facts
Nana's Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 218 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Potassium 715mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 36g 12%
Dietary Fiber 14g 56%
Sugars 2g
Protein 13g 26%
Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 3.8%
Calcium 9.9%
Iron 20.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 1 ham bone + ham scraps
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt and pepper


  1. The Night Before: Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with 3 inches of water. Soak the dried beans overnight (up to 24 hours) to soften. Drain when ready to use.
  2. Place a large 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add the oil, ham bone, onions, and garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes to soften the onions.
  3. Then add in the drained beans, thyme, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, 10 cups of water, and any remaining ham scraps. (Do not salt the soup until the end, because ham bones can be very salty.)

  4. Bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes, covered, until the beans are very soft. Uncover and stir occasionally, then place the lid back on top.
  5. Use a fork to pull any remaining ham off the bone and stir it into the soup. Discard the bone. Add 1-2 cups additional water if the soup is too thick. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Sometimes Nana (and I) add 2-3 chopped carrots, and 2-3 chopped celery stalks to the soup for additional veggie goodness. They are not necessary, but do add a bit of extra color! If using, add the carrots and celery when you add the onions.

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11 comments on “Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Ham Bone Soup

  1. Sabrina Perkinsposted December 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm Reply

    Holy moly!!! This soup is DELICIOUS!! Thank you for the recipe! Easy to make too! I’ll never get a ham without a bone now! ;)

  2. Dorisposted December 3, 2018 at 10:34 am Reply

    Good day Sommer!
    I made Nana’s Epic bean soup on Saturday and truly, you need to add one more word to the description. AWESOME EPIC BEAN SOUP! I did use a ham hock and the cut up ham steak but cut back on the spices a bit as I was bringing some to an elderly friend Belive me, a half tsp. of red pepper flakes was perfect for my taste. I did add one small bay leaf and only a 1/4 tsp of the cumin. I did add the veggies and threw in a can of petite diced tomatoes with liquid ( I used chicken stock and water to make up the 10 cups). My house smelled amazing during the process of cooking. I have some left over which I froze. I was a rainy Saturday and cold so this soup was perfect for warming your insides! OH! I made home made cheddar corn bread to go along …. for a Yankee that grew up in Brooklyn NY I have adapted well here in the South. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  3. Carolineposted November 27, 2018 at 9:35 am Reply

    I love the spices in this recipe-very tasty!

  4. Dorisposted November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am Reply

    Love the recipe Sommer , especially the addition of the celery and carrots. Could you use a ham hock instead of the ham bone?

    • Sommer Collierposted November 28, 2018 at 8:00 pm Reply

      Hi Doris,

      Absolutely! Let me know how it turns out. :)

      • Dorisposted November 30, 2018 at 6:52 pm

        HI Sommer!
        Thanks for the fast reply. I got my beans soaking right now for tomorrow and can not wait to make this! I did buy an ham steak to cut up but will use the ham hock too. I will surely let you know how it turned out! Blessings and enjoy your weekend.

  5. Loisposted November 13, 2018 at 7:50 pm Reply

    Can this be frozen 

    • Sommer Collierposted November 18, 2018 at 10:05 pm Reply

      Hi Lois,

      Oh yes! Nana always had some leftover soup in the freezer for quickie meals. :)

  6. Donnaposted November 3, 2018 at 2:44 pm Reply

    This was amazing!!! The cumin and crushed pepper gives it just the right kick! I come from the same background. A whole lot of leftover/repurposing. From chicken carcasses to short ribs… some fond memories from very frugal sources!!!

  7. Nicoleposted April 26, 2018 at 11:13 am Reply

    This was good! I soaked the beans overnight then made it in the crockpot. My family all had 2nd servings. I reduced water to 8 cups and added 2.5 tbsp of chicken bouillon. I also sauteed carrots and added them at the end because sauce was too thin. I will be making again. Thanks for sharing!

  8. ColleenB.~ Tx.posted April 3, 2018 at 3:29 am Reply

    That looks Delicious; especially on this chilly morning.
    What a wonderful childhood memory to warm the soul.
    I remember my mother making this when I was a kid; only she did add diced potatoes to make more filling and for it to go further for our family of 6