Yet another recipe that often takes hours on the stovetop is revamped for weeknight cooking thanks to the Instant Pot. This white bean soup is chock full of healthy vegetables and flavorful ham, is super cheap and makes it to the table in less than an hour. What more could you want? Check out my recipe for Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup with Ham, Tomatoes and Kale to conquer your dinner table tonight!
If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a sucker for soups. I will happily eat them year round. But right now, smack in the middle of cooler weather, they're my go to meal. I almost always have at least one delitainer worth of soup in the fridge for fast dinners or satisfying lunches. And this Instant Pot remake of Navy Bean Soup is currently in my top 5 soup recipes. So, there's that.
Table of Contents
How to Make Navy Bean Soup in the Instant Pot
First up, sift through your bag of beans. Generally speaking, beans are left to dry in the fields and then put through a thresher before bagging. This process means that sometimes stones can make it into the bags, as can some less than perfect beans. Pull out the bad ones, then give the good ones a quick rinse under cool water.
Set the Instant Pot to sauté on high, then add oil to the bottom. Allow it to get nice and shimmery, then add the carrots, onion and celery with a five finger pinch of kosher salt. Stir and cook until the mirepoix is beginning to soften and the onions are becoming a bit translucent.
Add the diced ham to the mix and stir to coat. The ham holds quite a bit of salt and smoky flavor, so give it about a minute to sauté with the veggies to impart some of that yummy flavor.
Next, add the herbs and garlic to the mix. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30-40 seconds. Dump in your can of tomatoes in their juices, your stock and the rinsed beans. Give the pot a good stir, then secure the lid and switch the Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure Cook on high for 35 minutes. Allow to natural release for 10 minutes.
After the Instant Pot has naturally released pressure for 10 minutes, hit the quick release button to remove any leftover steam. Remove the lid, add 3-4 handfuls of chopped kale, and stir to combine. Cook until the kale is just wilted, then season as necessary.
Serve your soup and enjoy! If you'd like, top the soup with a sprinkle of grated parmesan for a bit of extra umami saltiness. We also like buttered toast to dip in our soups. (Bonus if you can find Aldi's Croissant Sandwich Loaf, which is basically a giant croissant that has been sliced.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! If you can't find dried navy beans, acceptable substitutes include:
-Great Northern Beans
-Borlotti (a.k.a. Cranberry) Beans
-Cannellini (a.k.a. White Kidney) Beans
Basically, any smallish white bean should work, though you may need to adjust your cooking times slightly depending on the varietal.
First of all, dried beans are way cheaper than the canned variety. A full pound of dried white beans costs about $0.85 at our local Aldi. Each can of beans costs a little over a dollar, and to get an even amount you'd need 3 - 4 cans.
Canned beans can also be packaged in containers that have BPA in the lining. In case you hadn't heard about it, BPA is linked with not-so-great-for-you side effects like childhood obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Dried beans also have a longer shelf life than their canned counterparts, and can be stored indefinitely under appropriate conditions. While it's best to use dried beans within a year for flavor purposes, in the event of a "stuff-hit-the-fan" situation, having dried beans on hand is a good idea.
Finally, the environmental toll of transporting and stocking dried beans vs. canned beans is much lower. Cans are heavier and take up more space, making their transport burn up more fossil fuels to get to store shelves. The process of creating steel cans, and the amount of energy used to then cook and can the beans is also more energy intensive.
If you opt to go the stovetop route, canned beans can definitely cut down your cooking time to a more reasonable timeframe. However, if you're using the Instant Pot, I highly recommend using dried beans because the pressure cooking process breaks them down so quickly.
Oh, and if you want to get fancy, you can order specialty, heirloom varieties of dried beans from one of my favorite bean purveyors, Rancho Gordo.
Sure thing! Instead of adding ham to the dish, you can replace some of the flavor with a dash or two of soy sauce (or tamari, if you are gluten-free) and a bit of liquid smoke or smoked salt. The addition of some deeply caramelized onions would also be delicious.
Absolutely! While the process will end up taking a bit longer (if you're using dried beans), you can definitely still make this soup on the stovetop. First, soak your dried beans for about 12 hours. To speed up the process, bring the beans to a boil then remove from heat and soak for an hour.
The dried beans will also require more than 35 minutes of simmering to get them cooked through. I'd guess you're looking at about 1.5 - 2.5 hours of simmer time.
Alternatively, you can opt to use 3 - 4 cans of drained, rinsed white beans. Since canned beans are already cooked, they will speed up the stovetop method to *almost* as fast as the Instant Pot dried bean method.
Before you add the kale to the soup, give your beans a taste. If they are too hard for your liking, replace the lid of your Instant Pot and pressure cook for another 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, you can also switch the Instant Pot over to sauté and cook for another 5-10 minutes to get the beans to your preferred level of softness.
Need more soup inspiration? Check out these other delicious recipes:
- Instant Pot Split Pea & Ham Soup
- Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
- Vegetarian Corn and Sweet Potato Tom Kha Soup
If you tried this Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup recipe, please be sure to comment and rate it below. I'd love to know how it turned out for you!
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Hearty Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup with Ham, Tomatoes and Kale
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 C Carrots small dice
- 1 C Celery small dice, leaves okay
- 1 ½ C Onions small dice, yellow onions preferred
- 6-8 oz Cooked Ham medium dice (optional)
- 5-8 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Dried Basil
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
- 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 lb Dried Navy Beans picked through and rinsed
- 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
- 4 C Chicken Bone Broth or sub vegetable broth
- 3-4 handfuls Kale de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add mirepoix and a five finger pinch of kosher salt, then sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften and become translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add garlic and herbs, stirring to coat. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add navy beans, canned tomatoes and broth. Secure Instant Pot lid, then switch to Manual/Pressure Cook on high for 35 minutes. Allow to natural release for 10 minutes.
- Remove lid and add kale. Stir into the pot, and let wilt for 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!Note: If beans are too al dente for your liking, switch back to sauté function and simmer, stirring often, until beans are soft enough.
- To make this soup vegan, omit the ham. Add a few teaspoons of soy sauce and smoked salt or liquid smoke to emulate the flavor.
- If making this on the stovetop, presoak dried beans for 12ish hours and simmer for 1.5-2 hours to cook through. Alternatively, opt for canned beans that have been drained and rinsed.