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REAL Food: Navy Bean and Ham Hock Soup

Damn it’s cold outside! I love Winter for one reason only – eating food that warms you right through.
This next recipe does not break any new ground. It is my take on the classic real food from our past. 10 simple ingredients married in a crock pot that will have your family mopping up the bowl. Best yet, the soup takes little preparation.

I updated this soup from a recipe on Recipezaar for a Depression Era soup. Well, we are far from it, so let’s use some real ingredients to make the classic our own.

Ham hocks are available at your butcher. Okay, you might not have one. Do yourself a favor, and get to know one. If that means that you actually have to talk to the guy at the meat counter at the supermarket, so be it. Ask if you can get some hocks in. You would be surprised at the cost of the hocks. They are pure gold, and priced like dirt.

Pick up a loaf of bread from your local bakeshop and indulge in a classic soup.

Are you ready to cook! Let’s go!

Bean Soup Steaming

Yes, the picture sucks! The taste is gorgeous though!

White Navy Bean Soup with Ham Hocks

Serves 4


  • 2 small ham hocks (one could use a bone if you like, or just chopped ham.)
  • 450 grams (2 cups) white navy beans, washed and picked
  • 2 liters (8 cups) water (This is to start, you will need more later.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 small russet potatoes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • to taste kosher salt
  • to taste freshly ground pepper


  1. Pick through beans to make sure there are no stones. Nothing sucks like breaking your teeth on a stone when it should be a bean!
  2. Place the beans in the crock pot; cover with water.
  3. Set on high cooking and cook for an hour.
  4. Now, some of you will argue that we should or should not season the beans because of the skins. Well, it is a moot point here as we are adding something salty to it anyway. Moving right along.
  5. Ham hocks go in. If you cannot find ham hocks, don’t worry. The recipe will be fine. Just throw in a ham bone. No ham bone? You’re killing me here! You could just use a couple slices of ham.
  6. Add your bay leaf to the crock pot. Don’t worry – it will float. No panic. Really!
  7. Hack up the onion, a small dice is fine, toss it into te crock pot.
  8. Mince the garlic, again – you guesed it – into the crockpot. Are you with me so far?
  9. Hack the potatoes into a medium dice, toss them into the crock pot. You will be needing them to give your soup some body – that stick-to-your-ribs quality. Besides, they are in season.
  10. Set all of that onto 10 hour on low cooking.
  11. Just before serving, remove the meat and bay leaf from the soup. Once the meat is cold enough to handle, shred it up!
  12. Puree up half of the soup with a hand blender. Do it right in the crockpot! Why waste or clean another vessel. If you have dishwashers, then don’t worry about it. If you don’t – you get the idea.
  13. Put the meat back into the soup.
  14. Now is the time to adjust for seasoning. We start off with the lemon juice, then we adjust the salt and pepper in stages.
  15. Taste a spoon full, think about the saltiness or the pepperiness. *I am sure that should be a word!*
  16. Once the soup is where you would like it to be, ladle it up and serve it with that local artisan bread.
  17. Props to you! You just cooked something easy for Winter.

Of course, the soup is nothing that needs to be keep secret for national safety. What it is – an update on a classic. I checked my grocery store, and this soup is not even available in the can. Dare to be different, and cook something your family will like.

For the bean haters out there, well – sorry about that. There is always Beano, I guess.

[update – I had this soup last night, and it tasted great! It was a little hard for me afterwards, as I am coming down with something, so it prevented me from posting it last night. Sorry about that all!)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • SippitySup December 23, 2009, 3:08 pm

    I live in Los Angeles, but I do not need the cold as an excuse to eat something so hearty and simply perfect. GREG PS I nominated you for a Homie at The Kitchn so get over there and vote for yourself and your other fav blogs http://homies.apartmenttherapy.com/2009/category/home-cooking

  • jasonsandeman December 23, 2009, 3:38 pm

    @GREG – Why thank you very much!

  • Allison September 14, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I love navy bean soup. I used to by Sylvia’s (canned) navy bean soup- very good! I also used to buy a canned version called Senate Soup, which is another version of navy bean soup and also delicious. Alas, I can’t find either now, and would rather make my own, anyway. Love this recipe and the humor with which it was written.

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