Growing up, my mother made a lot of navy bean soup. It is a quintessential Albanian dish, called “Pasul” and it’s usually made with some type of smoked meat. My mom always made hers with short ribs. I vividly remember my indifference when we had pasul for dinner, I didn’t appreciate its beauty until much later in life. I remember getting up early and getting ready for school, there would often be a big bowl of beans soaking in water from the night before on the kitchen countertop and I never understood why. Now I get it mom! The key step is to soak your beans overnight.
I love making this soup so much! Not only is it delicious, but it’s also super easy. When beans are soaked overnight, it speeds up their cooking process and also makes them easier to digest. If you don’t have navy beans or can’t find any, you could also use great northern beans.
The base of this soup starts off with a “mirepoix.” A simple blend of carrots, celery, and onion. I added in a few tomatoes and some grated garlic. And those are the building blocks for this flavorful bean soup. If you’re anything like me when ordering groceries online, you probably have (2) five pound bags of carrots in your fridge right now. I can never get the quantities right on those apps.
Pasul is seasoned with “vegeta” a yummy multi-purpose seasoning used in a variety of dishes. It contains a lot of dehydrated vegetables like carrots, onions, celery and also herbs and spices, like turmeric and parsley. It’s usually pretty high in sodium. If you grew up Albanian, this was on the table for every meal. I put my own twist on this soup and used a blend of warm spices instead, like cumin and coriander. This is also a good way to control the amount of salt in your soup.
The navy bean soup is thickened with a corn flour roux, simply made with corn flour, oil and smoked paprika; Cooked on low heat until all blended together and then added to the soup 10 minutes or so before finishing. Regular AP flour is most commonly used, but I love the flavor the corn flour adds to the soup, which also makes this gluten-free.
Navy Bean Soup
Navy Bean Soup
- 7 cups water
- 2 cups navy beans soaked in water over night and drained
- 2 tbs grapeseed oil or olive oil
- ⅓ cup celery diced
- ½ cup yellow onion diced
- ⅓ cup carrot diced
- ¼ cup sweet peppers sliced
- ⅔ cup tomatoes diced
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper optional
- 1 tbsp White Vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Corn Flour "Roux"
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Heat 2 tbs oil in a 4-qt soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and peppers and sauté for 8-10 minutes.
- Then add grated garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf and all of your spices except the salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. This will also toast the spices and bring their flavors out.
- Add in the navy beans and water, stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat, covered for 40 minutes.
- Remove lid and add salt to taste. Stir to combine.
- In a small pan over medium heat, combine butter, corn flour and smoked paprika for about 2-3 minutes until well blended. Pour directly into the soup to combine and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes before serving. This will thicken the soup and give it a delicious flavor.
- Turn the heat off, then add in the vinegar in and stir.
- The beans should be fork tender at this point. Serve and top with fresh cilantro and scallion (optional.)
- This soup is delicious as is or can be served as a side, over white rice and your choice of protein. (my favorite is chicken)
- If you don’t have any corn flour, you can use AP flour for the roux.
- Canned whole tomatoes work well if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes.
- This soup can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days; Just add a little water to reheat.
- If you don’t have any carrots, parsnips are yummy too!
- Regular paprika can be used in place of smoked paprika.
- Great northern beans can also be used instead of navy.