I think we’re experiencing one of the last cold spells of the year here in Louisiana, so I wanted to make one last hearty, soul-warming soup. This Navy Bean Soup was incredibly easy, but boasts huge flavor and major filling power. In short, it’s AWESOME. With tons of flavor, fiber, and vegetables, this is definitely going to be one of my go-to winter soups from now on!
Rich Navy Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage and Spinach
No Bouillon Necessary
Lately I’ve been trying to ween myself off of my bouillon crutch. I usually use chicken bouillon (Better Than Bouillon brand) to add oomph to my soups and just make the whole process super easy and flavorful. What I’ve found recently, though, is that I really enjoy the subtly of broths made simply by the vegetables and herbs that I use in the soup. Plus, this way you can be in complete control over the sodium.
Do I Have to Use Smoked Sausage?
I used smoked sausage in this soup, but there are a couple of options if you don’t want to use sausage. You can substitute the sausage with bacon (about 6 ounces should do), or you can use a smoked ham hock. The ham hock doesn’t need to be sautéed, just add it in when with the beans, herbs, and water. If you want to do a vegetarian version, just add a little liquid smoke to give the broth that nice smokey depth. The vegetables and herbs should add all of the flavor that you need!
Can I Use a Different Type of Bean?
Navy beans are a good choice for this white bean soup because they break down as they cook and make the soup deliciously creamy. Another good white bean would be Great Northern Beans because they also tend to break down well during the cooking process. Cannellini beans, which are larger and tend to hold their shape, might not work as well. I’ve also made similar soups using black eyed peas (see Slow Simmered Black Eyed Peas and Greens).
Freeze The Leftovers
This recipe makes a huge batch, but it can be easily halved, or you can freeze half for later. If freezing your soup, make sure to divide it into single portions right after cooking (so it cools quickly), cool it completely in the refrigerator overnight, then transfer to the freezer the next day. And make sure to label and date the containers! :)
Navy Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage and Spinach
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 14 oz smoked sausage ($2.79)
- 1 medium onion ($0.36)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1/2 lb carrots (about 3) ($0.50)
- 3 stalks celery ($0.60)
- 1 lb dry navy beans (2 cups) ($1.69)
- 1 whole bay leaf ($0.15)
- 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary ($0.03)
- to taste freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)
- 8 cups water ($0.00)
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach ($0.50)
- 1/2 Tbsp salt ($0.07)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar ($0.02)
- The night before, sort through the beans to remove any stones or debris. Place the beans in a bowl and cover them with cool water. Allow the beans to soak in the refrigerator over night.
- Slice the sausage in to medallions and add them to a large soup pot along with one tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the sausage over medium heat until it is nicely browned (about five minutes). Drain off the excess fat.
- While the sausage is browning, dice the onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the soup pot after the sausage fat has been drained off. Saute for about five minutes more. The moisture released by the vegetables will dissolve any browned bits off of the bottom of the pot.
- Drain the soaked beans and give them a good rinse with fresh water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot along with the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, some freshly cracked pepper, and 8 cups of water. Stir everything to combine. Turn the heat up to high and allow the soup to come up to a full boil.
- Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the soup to gently boil for two hours, with the lid in place. You want the beans to go past the point of tenderness to the point where they are falling apart. Stir the pot occasionally.
- After gently boiling for a couple of hours, use a large wooden spoon to smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. This will help thicken the soup. Stir in the fresh spinach until wilted. Season the soup with salt. Start with just a 1/2 teaspoon at a time and add more until it is to your desired saltiness (I used 1/2 tablespoon total). Lastly, stir in the apple cider vinegar. Serve hot.
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How to Make Navy Bean Soup – Step By Step Photos
The night before making the soup, add the beans to a large bowl and cover with 2x the amount of water. Allow them to soak in the refrigerator overnight.
The soup starts with these ingredients. They all come together with a few herbs to make a wonderfully flavorful broth without any bouillon. Oh yeah, start soaking the beans the night before.
Cut the sausage into medallions and brown it with a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Pour off the excess fat.
While the sausage is browning, dice the onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces. This soup is totally veggie-licious, but I didn’t want it to be too chunky, so I cut all of them into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the vegetables to the pot with the sausage and saute for about five more minutes. The moisture will help dissolve all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot (aka “flavor”).
Rinse and drain the soaked beans. Add the rinsed beans, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and some freshly cracked pepper to the pot.
Add 8 cups of water and stir until everything is combined. Turn the heat up to high and bring the pot up to a full boil. Having a lid in place will help it come to a boil faster.
Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it gently boil for two hours with the lid in place. This long boiling process will help the beans break down, but you’ll want to use your spoon to smoosh some of the beans against the wall of the pot. After you start doing that, the soup will really start to thicken up.
Stir in the fresh spinach until it’s wilted. Lastly, season the soup with salt and about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Serve hot!
Yum! So hearty, so easy, SO delicious!
This recipe has been on repeat in my house ever since I found it! My husband is such a picky eater and he loves this soup. He actually requests it at least once a month. This soup has so much flavor and is so easy to make. I’ve also brought this soup to a family gathering and to a friends gathering and everyone loves this soup and says how much flavor it has.
This soup is delicious. It is so flavorful and filling. My husband likes to eat it over rice and I like it that way too. Passed it on to other family members and they raved about it. Definitely, a keeper!
Came to this recipe from your collection of recipes to use up leftover spinach (you’ve really thought of everything!). Looking forward to trying it with Swiss chard from the garden in the spring. Thanks for another great recipe.
Wow, I never comment on recipes but this was so good. I’m trying to add more beans to my diet and may have found my favorite recipe yet! As others suggested, I added chicken bouillon and the broth was great. I would definitely suggest adding salt in 1/4 teaspoon increment after to taste to keep from making it too salty.
Recipe is AMAZING. I changed a couple things…I left in the oil drippings from sausage for sautee purpose and flavor…I also added chicken bouillon cubes through cooking process(8) and left out the herbs but kept in fresh garlic. I added spinach to my bowl because my kid hates spinach but I live it and soup was hot enough to wilt in bowl. Loved this recipe!
Absolutely amazing! Made this yesterday with ham hocks and it was delicious. Definitely gonna try it with sausage next time. Thank you
Made a quick version with canned beans and frozen spinach. Added some bouillon to the water, and a bit of cilantro since we had it on hand. Dinner ready in 15 mins work, and 45 mins simmering unattended. And my 7 year old loved it!
Along with using a bit more sausage (1 1/4 lbs), I added 1/2 cup bacon bits when sauteing the sausage, added a bunch of chopped kale to the veggie list, and replace 4 cups of the water with chicken broth. Turned out WONDERfully.
You can play endlessly with this.
This is so good! I’m in Louisiana also and I make all kinds of beans regularly. I saw this recipe by happenstance while surfing the web. I will surely keep coming back to your blog. I cannot stand it when people don’t use enough seasoning and at least you understand where I’m coming from! This recipe is not only beautiful but the flavors and soooooo good! I did add some feta cheese when serving and I thought it added to the soup also but I’m a fan of feta any time these common herbs and spinach are used. – Thanks, Shannon in LA
Very hearty soup! Used pressure cooker and turkey smoked sausge. Meal in a bowl, Printing this off……it’s a keeper!
How long did you cook it in the pressure cooker?