Meal in a Bowl: Healthy(ish) Navy Bean, Ham and Vegetable Soup

Navy Bean, Ham, Vegetable SoupChopping vegetables has got to be one of the most therapeutic activities that exists. Some people like to go for a run when they’re stressed. I like to make a big pot of soup.

Running isn’t something that generally occurs to me.

We bought a massive 10-pound honey-glazed ham at the grocery store the other day (the kind you cook yourself) and we’ve been eating nothing but ham all week and still somehow have approximately 9.7 pounds left. I’m fairly certain it’s reproducing in the refrigerator at night. Anyway, I needed something to do with all this ham so…soup happened. This is a slight variation on my go-to soup base, made to be healthy(ish), and it was pretty satisfying with some grated Parmesan cheese on top and a massive hunk of warm Italian bread. If you want to be extra-Weight Watchers about it all you can omit those last ingredients but where’s the fun in that?

A couple of notes: Many bean soup recipes call for dried beans, soaked overnight but seriously, who knows they want to make soup two days ahead of time? I use canned because BUSY but reduce the sodium elsewhere. And if you’re not into ham you can, of course, substitute chicken or bacon or…venison? Yeah, probably don’t use venison.



1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large carrot, diced or chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (use the leaves!)
1/2 sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 springs fresh thyme
2 (15.5 oz.) cans navy beans, drained but not rinsed
48 oz. reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 (10.75 oz.) Cream of Chicken Soup (I use Campbell’s, Healthy Choice)
1.5 – 2 cups chopped, cooked ham
24 oz. crushed tomatoes (I swear by San Marzano)
optional: grated Parmesan cheese, Italian bread, and 2 tbsp. butter if you’re feeling NAUGHTY

1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots, cooking until tender and browned, about 10 minutes. This process is a good time to season everything liberally. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes more.

chopped vegetables

2. Pour in chicken stock and bring back to a simmer. Add in crushed tomatoes, parsley, thyme, Cream of Chicken soup, and ham. Bring back to a simmer. Finally, add in the drained navy beans. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

3. Bring soup to a heavy simmer over medium-high heat and allow to cook (uncovered) for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Soup will get a little thicker the longer it cooks – the beans are breaking down. Take off heat and let rest a few minutes before serving. If you want to add the additional butter for some extra creaminess, add when you take the pot off the heat. Serve with Italian bread and grated Parmesan cheese (unless you’re not into extra-delicousness.)
San Marzano***San Marzano canned tomatoes have gotten a lot of press lately – they’re the Scarlett Johansson of tomatoes. As much as I wanted to think all the chatter was just hype I tried them and they really are that much better. And I’ve used a lot of canned tomatoes in my day. It’s totally worth the extra $2 you’ll spend…the flavor and consistency just can’t be matched


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