Navy Bean Soup

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Navy Bean Soup: healthy, tasty, inexpensive and easy to make.  I make one or two homemade soups a week. With homemade soups you control the ingredients like salt, and there's no preservatives! 

Grandma and mom made this often, as did my mother-in-law. They lived through the Great Depression with large families and learned to stretch a budget.

This is my mother-in-law's recipe with the only difference of adding Italian spices, butter, and using chopped bacon, if  I don't readily have ham.  If buying ham bones at grocer, shanks have more meat.

Beans bought in 2 to 5 pound sacks, can also be used in other recipes like salads or humus.  My Italian spice blend comes from the Dollar Store and contains dried  thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary and sage. It's my secret ingredient in many recipes!

Navy Bean Soup
2 cups dried navy beans, 1 pound
8 cups of water or broth, canned or with bullion
1-1/2 to 2 cups chopped ham; meaty ham bone or bacon can be used
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced or chopped carrots
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 tsp. Italian blend seasoning
1/2 stick of butter, 4 Tabs.
salt and pepper to taste
optional: splash of vinegar for serving

Soak beans overnight covered in water. Drain and discard water. In a large soup pot, add all above ingredients, except butter, with drained beans. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn down and simmer until beans are tender, occasionally stirring, about 2 hours.  If using a ham bone, take out, cool, and remove meat. Chop meat and return to the soup.

To thicken soup, take 2 cups of beans with liquid and puree in a blender or pulse with an immersion wand for a few seconds.  Add blended soup back into pot and stir to thicken.  I put the wand right in the pot for a few pulses.  (A potato masher will do; after all, that's what moms used in the old days!) 

Add butter and stir until melted.  Remove bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a splash of vinegar and/or garnish with a sprinkling of parsley or chives.  This soup freezes well. 

Pressure Cooker Method: Put all ingredients, including dry beans, in pressure cooker and cook for 15-20 minutes according to manufactures directions.  Puree and finish recipe as directed above.

Makes about 4 quarts. 16 servings.
Estimated cost $4.00 or less; .25 cents a serving or less.

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