MY MUSE BOX - Still The Season of the Soup

Granmere’s French Navy Bean Soup



Yes, I know it's been 90 degress in our 'hood, but the temp is dropping, prolonging soup season. Time for one last soup supper hurrah. My choice: Grandmere's French Navy Bean Soup! And, no this is not the same as the lentil soup I told y'all about some weeks ago.

I love bean soups, but each bean brings a new and different flavor to "bean" soup and soup made from navy beans is no exception. But my inquiring mind has always wanted to know.  “Navy” bean?  Why are those delicious, little white beans called "navy" beans?

Well, I let my little fingers do the walking over to google for the answer. 

First up:  they’re called navy beans because they were used on board naval ships.

OK, fine – but that’s just a tad too simple.  There had to be a better reason than that. So, my fingers did another walk over to google.  

Second up: during the seafaring age in Europe, these little white beans could be grown on board ships and stored in casks for a long time without rotting or going rancid, so the European navies used these beans as a staple to feed its men on board.

OK, fine – that makes sense.  Fiber and protein for sailors… and it makes a helluva soup.

Never a sailor (well, he did go whale watching once on a sail boat if that counts), it didn't stop him from making this healthful, hearty, filling, inexpensive and oh soooooooooo good Grandmere’s French Navy Bean Soup. The recipe doesn’t say whose grandmere, but you know the French, there’s always a grandmere somewhere making soup.

                         “GRANMERE’S FRENCH NAVY BEAN SOUP”

                                Courtesy of Cassoulets U*S*A



1 lb French navy beans

2 quarts of water

1 ham hock or left-over ham bone

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

3 whole cloves

2 stalks celery (with leaves), finely chopped

1 carrot, shredded

Sea salt to taste




Prepare Beans according to the package.  Richard used Cassoulets U*S*A beans: Rinse and pick over.  Pour boiling water over beans to cover by 2 inches.  Cover and leave for one hour. Rinse and drain.

In a large cooking pot, add the beans to 2 quarts of water, along with the ham hock, onions, bay leave, cloves, celery, and carrot. 

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until beans are very tender and the soup begins to thicken.

Discard bay leaf and remove ham hock.

When cool, remove meat and cut into chunks.

Partially mash beans and vegetables to thicken soup.

Return cut up ham to soup. My husband always adds a bit of spinach at the end.  Season with salt and pepper and reheat to serve piping hot.

Garnish with parsley.



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Irene DeBlasio March 19, 2013 at 01:16 PM
@IlonaSaari Another perfect production! Thank you for taking the time and effort to share another wonderful recipe. Being brought up in an Italian household we ate pasta a few times a week. My Mom made soup only when we were sick or when it was bitter cold outside. My appreciation for soup began when I lived in London. Rain can be a big soup trigger. As for the white beans, they're great to combine with marinara sauce too. Keep up the wonderful work! You rock!
Ilona Saari March 19, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Thanks so much Irene - your comments on my blogs and articles always make my day!!!
Bob Blanchard March 21, 2013 at 04:31 AM
I have come to appreciate different soups as I have gotten older. If I ever hit the lottery, I will hire an Italian cook if Ms. DeBlasio will recommend one. I always suspected that my mother bought Campbell Chicken Noodle and Tomato soup by the case. It seemed as if there was no other kind. What is the Barry Manilow phrase,"I write the songs and let the whole world sing" or words to that effect? So Richard does the cooking and you do the writing? When is Richard going to cook up a good batch of New England Clam Chowder so I can steal his recipe?
Ilona Saari March 25, 2013 at 09:34 PM
I've been in Florida and just got back to LA and found your request, Bob. I promise when Richard does make New England clam chowder, I'll write about it and give you the recipe. ;o)
Bob Blanchard March 28, 2013 at 07:39 AM
Hi Ilona, Leave CA for FL? Change your picture. I know you must have more tan. Looking forward to Richard's NE Clam Chowder. Ever watch "Are You Being Served"? If so, "Come along, Richard", will have some fun meaning. I love British comedy. Thanks.


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