Crockpot Cooking: Navy Beans with Ham (aka Senate Bean Soup)


My Mom used to make this all the time, and I’m guessing her mother made it pretty often, too. I’m just keeping up with tradition. The original Senate bean soup has 2 cups of mashed added at the end as a thickener. I prefer to add a little bit of barley with the beans at the beginning of the cooking process (not the soaking).

  • 1 pound Navy beans,  quick soaked

  • 8 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups onions, minced

  • 2-3 stalks celery, minced

  • 3/4 cup green  bell pepper, minced

  • 3 t0 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8 -12 cups water

  • 1 ham bone, the meatier the better

  • 1 to 2 bay leaves

  • 2/3 cup whole barley

Navy beans can be soaked overnight, or you can use the quick soak method.  Place the beans in a heavy pot.  Rinse and sort, removing any debris (rocks) and damaged or unsightly beans.  Cover the beans with about 2 inches of water (at least 8 cups, or 2 quarts), and bring to a boil.  Let simmer about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.   Let sit for 1 hour, and beans are ready for a slow cook, either on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker.

Saute the vegetables in olive oil till tender. Transfer to a crockpot and add the hambone. Cover with water, about 12 cups, and cook for 6 to 8 hours in slowcooker, or simmer for 3 to 4 hours on stove.

Add water as needed.



When the beans are done, remove the ham bone and either shred or dice the meat. Return the meat to the pot and discard the bone. Now taste for salt and add if needed.


Freezes well.


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