I've made a couple of runs at this soup, as it's one of David's favorites, but hadn't found a recipe we really loved until this one. And hey, it was the simplest one I tried! It's also very adaptable, fitting well with our goal of cooking for the next week with only what we already have in the house. It'd be a good Crockpot recipe, but was too much to fit in mine, so it simmered on the stove all through this cold afternoon. We had a few hours of October sunshine today, but the afternoon ended dark and drizzling, so soup and corn bead and applesauce were perfect. Mary wasn't here for dinner, but Else, now a year and a half, devoured it.
Notes: I had no celery or carrot, but added a little celery seed. I like the addition of the chopped spinach quite a bit, but you could omit. We used 3 smoked bratwurst and the flavor was fabulous. If doing in a Crockpot, I'd soak the beans on the stove, then add with tomatoes to the Crockpot and put on high while sauteing the vegetables, then add everything to the Crockpot. I'd suggest cooking for a few hours on high then turning down to low, but you might want to cook part of the time with the lid off so it cooks down a bit. You probably wouldn't add the entire 3 cups of water, either, if going this route. Like most bean soups, this should freeze very well. It makes a really large amount, easily enough for a meal for six.
Navy Bean Soup
*1 lb. of dried Navy beans, rinsed
*6 cups of water
*1 TBS Better than Bouillon, Chicken, OR a couple bouillon cubes
(OR sub 3 cups of chicken broth for 3 cups of the water)
*1 TBS olive oil
*1 onion, chopped
*2 stalks celery, chopped
*2 carrots, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 lb ham, chopped OR 3 smoked bratwurst, sliced into thin rounds OR 6 slices bacon, chopped
*1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes, with juice
*2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
*1 bay leaf
*3 more cups of water
*Chopped fresh parsley, 2 TBS or so
*Chopped baby spinach, a cup or two, or one small container frozen chopped spinach
*lots of black pepper, salt to taste
-Cover beans with a generous amount of water; bring to a boil then let them sit and soak for an hour. Drain.
-Towards the end of that hour, heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions, celery, carrot and your choice of meat. Saute until the onions are golden. Add garlic and saute a few minutes more, watching closely to make sure the garlic doesn't burn.
-Add beans to pot, along with tomatoes, Worcestershire, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
-Remove lid from pot and add 3 more cups water. Bring back to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for another two hours.
-During the last few minutes, add chopped parsley and spinach. Add pepper to taste. Don't salt it until you've tasted it, as this will be pretty salty already with the Worcestershire and ham.