Sunday, March 12, 2017

Instant Pot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Continuing on the theme of very soft foods for the daughter with the palate expanders, I wanted to make her a soup for school lunches this week. I wanted something that I could purée to silkiness that would be nourishing and sustaining. Enter navy bean and ham soup! I do love Tuscan Cranberry Bean Stew with a ham variation but wanted something more similar the the super simple navy bean soup I grew up eating. Besides, I didn't fancy the idea of pureeing a soup with kale in it for fear of the resulting color! Since I couldn't make myself prepare a soup without a major vegetable, instead of kale I used the food processor to finely grind up half a head of green cabbage. I did this last week with my lentil beef barley soup (this recipe with ground beef instead of Italian sausage and no fennel seeds) and it turned out great. There was no sulfurous smell or taste from the cabbage and no one suffered any digestive distress (i.e. gas) as we all did when I once added a head of cauliflower to a puréed soup.

I love using the Instant Pot to cook beans from dry, but since I had the time I decided to brine the beans to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness. If you choose not to brine, increase the cooking time to 40 minutes and add an additional 1 tsp kosher salt (and then adjust to taste after).

The resulting soup would have been nice as-is, but I do really like the texture after pureeing it with the immersion blender. I didn't have to add any extra salt or flavoring. It's just a mild, straightforward, tasty soup that made enough to feed all of us for multiple lunches this week.

To make the soup vegan or vegetarian, replace the butter with olive oil and the chicken stock with vegetable stock and omit the ham.

1 lb dry navy beans, washed and picked over, brined over night in 4 quarts of water plus 3 TBSP kosher salt
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 large onion
2-3 ribs celery
2-3 carrots
1-2 cloves garlic, optional
1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 - 3/4 lb ham, finely diced
4 c unsalted chicken stock (or low sodium--if salted, omit any extra salt)
2-3 c water
1/2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Finely chop the onion, celery, carrots, cabbage and garlic. I do this successively in my food processor, which makes the prep a snap
  2. Melt the butter using the Sauté mode in the Instant Pot then add the onions. Stir frequently and cook until the onions are soft. Add the other vegetables as you finish processing them
  3. Once all the veggies are soft, add the diced ham and continue sautéing until a bit of the water has evaporated
  4. Drain the brined beans and rinse them well
  5. Add the beans to the pot, followed by the stock and water. Give the mixture a stir to ensure that the vegetables aren't stuck to the bottom of the pot
  6. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and close as directly, making sure to close the valve (my usual mistake)
  7. Use the soup/stew mode and set the time to 25 minutes at high pressure
  8. Once the cooking time is done, let the pressure release naturally
  9. Purée if desired, then taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. A dash of clove might taste nice. If it seems too dull, try a splash of champagne or sherry vinegar

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