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Senate Bean Soup

Senate Bean Soup

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  • Prep 10min
  • Total3hr15min
  • Servings12

This easy bean soup recipe is a winner. Bake a fresh loaf of bread to accompany and you have wonderful comfort food.MORE+LESS-

ByTBSP Geoff

Updated May 7, 2015



pounds dried navy beans, washed and drained


Hide Images

  • 1

    Rinse beans in hot water until they whiten. Place beans in large stockpot, add water and bring to boil.

  • 2

    In separate small saute pan, heat butter and saute onion until lightly browned. Add to the pot of beans with ham hocks. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

  • 3

    With 30 minutes remaining, remove ham hocks and let cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Add salt and pepper and increase heat to bring soup to boiling before serving.

Nutrition Information

No nutrition information available for this recipe

Senate Bean Soup With Ham

Use a meaty ham bone or ham hocks for this hearty Senate bean soup. Senate bean soup is served in the Senate restaurant every day. Idaho Senator Fred Dubois purportedly requested the soup originally, which explains why his version includes mashed potatoes. These days, the soup is made with fewer ingredients. Included in the modern Senate bean soup are some lightly sauteed onions and no potatoes, garlic, or celery. It's a very simple, stick-to-your-ribs soup.

Prepared with celery, onions, parsley, garlic, potatoes and some spices, this bean soup delivers an extra delicious taste. Enjoy this warming soup on a chilly fall or winter day. The soup starts with a pound of dried beans. Navy beans are called for in the recipe, but great northern beans or a bean soup mixture are excellent substitutes.

The potatoes are cooked and mashed, providing thickening and texture. Use leftover mashed potatoes if you have them. There are many other vegetables that can be added to the soup for flavor and color: diced carrots, red or green bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, turnips or rutabagas, and green beans or lima beans are just a few of the many possibilities. If you have leftover baked ham, dice it and add it to the soup along with the potatoes and vegetables.

Serve the soup with hot baked cornbread or biscuits and a tossed green salad for a fabulous everyday meal. If you have leftovers, it's even better the next day. Or freeze the soup for a future lunch or dinner.

Slow Cooker Senate Bean Soup With Instant Potato Flakes

In the morning, rinse the ham hock and place in slow cooker. Rinse the beans and add to cooker along with onion, garlic, celery and parsley. Stir and add enough water to cover the meat.

Cook on low setting for 10-12 hours, or high 6-8 hours.

Remove the hock and cut the meat off the bone. Raise slow cooker setting to high, return the meat to the cooker, and add potato flakes (if desired) as well as additional water if necessary. Stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Nutritional InformationShow More

  • Amount Per Serving % Daily Value *
  • Calories 429
  • Calories from Fat 42
  • Total Fat 4.7g 7 %
  • Saturated Fat 0.9g 4 %
  • Trans Fat 0.0g 0 %
  • Protein 27g 54 %
  • Amount Per Serving % Daily Value *
  • Cholesterol 13mg 4 %
  • Sodium 1,056mg 44 % Potassium 0 0 % -->
  • Total Carbohydrates 73g 24 %
  • Dietary Fiber 16g 62 %
  • Sugars 3.1g 0 %

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Ratings & Comments

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I like to use the dried small white beans, or navy beans, for this recipe in order to cut down on the level of sodium a bit. I also like to add a peeled and chopped carrot to the mix with the celery and the onion. Using the instant mashed potato flakes is such a great tip for thickening soups!

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Maiden speeches Edit

From the Senate's earliest days, the new members have observed a ritual of remaining silent during floor debates for a period of time. Depending on the era and the Senator, this has ranged from several months to several years. Today, this obsolescent Senate tradition survives only in part—the special attention given to a member's first major address, or maiden speech.

Jefferson Bible Edit

Beginning in 1904 and continuing every other year until the 1950s, new members of Congress were given a copy of the Jefferson Bible, an edited version of the Bible by Thomas Jefferson that excluded what he felt were statements about the supernatural. Until the practice first stopped, copies were provided by the Government Printing Office. A private organization, the Libertarian Press, revived the practice in 1997. [1]

The procedural activities of the Senate are guided by the Standing Rules of the Senate. Tradition states that each day is begun with the Chaplain's Daily Prayer, which can be given by the Senate chaplain, or a representative of any faith. Following the prayer, the Senate recites the Pledge of Allegiance.

At the end of a session of Congress it is traditional for Senators to read speeches into the Congressional Record praising the efforts of colleagues who will not be returning for the next session.

If a Senator dies in office, it is traditional for the Senate to adjourn for a day and for U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff. A black cloth and a vase filled with white roses are placed over the deceased Senator's desk, and a large contingent of Senators often travel to the home state of the departed senator to pay their respects.

The Senate holds an annual reading of President George Washington's Farewell Address. This tradition, originally designed to be a morale-boosting gesture during the darkest hours of the American Civil War, began on February 22, 1862.

A number of items located around the Senate chamber are steeped in tradition.

Senate desks Edit

In 1819 new desks were ordered for the senators to replace the original set which was destroyed in the British attack on Washington in the War of 1812. The Daniel Webster desk [2] has the oldest design as it lacks a 19th-century modification to add extra storage space to the top. When Daniel Webster acquired this seat, he pronounced that if his predecessor could organize himself to work with the reduced desk space, so could he. Every subsequent senator who has sat at that desk has also declined to have it improved. In keeping with a 1974 Senate resolution, this desk is assigned to the senior Senator from Webster's birth state, New Hampshire. [3] Jeanne Shaheen has been the occupant of this desk since 2011.

Etching Edit

In the early twentieth century, a tradition of senators engraving their own name on the bottom of the desk drawers emerged.

Candy desk Edit

In 1965, California senator George Murphy began a tradition of keeping a desk near the back of the chamber stocked with candy. This continues today. [4]

Senate gavel Edit

The Senate uses three gavels, each of them have an hourglass shape with no handle. The first gavel, which had been used since at least 1789, cracked during the 1954 Senate session when then Vice President Richard Nixon (acting as President of the Senate) used it during a heated debate. Prior to this, an attempt to further prevent damage to the old gavel was done by adding silver plates to both ends. A replacement gavel made of ivory was presented to the Senate by the Republic of India and first used on November 17, 1954. In response to widespread awareness of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trades, a white marble gavel has been in use since at least 2021.

All three gavels are kept in a mahogany box that is carried to the senate floor by a page at the adjournment of a senate session the gavels are taken to the Sergeant at Arms' office for safekeeping. [5] [6] [7]

According to custom, bean soup is available on the Senate dining room menu every day. This tradition, which dates back to the early twentieth century, is variously attributed to a request by Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho, or, in another version of the story, to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota. The Dubois includes mashed potatoes and yields five gallons of soup. [8]

There are two Senate soup recipes:

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe
2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8. [8]

Bean Soup Recipe (for five gallons)
3 pounds dried navy beans
2 pounds of ham and a ham bone
1 quart mashed potatoes
5 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
four cloves garlic, chopped
half a bunch of parsley, chopped
Clean the beans, then cook them dry. Add ham, bone and water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add chopped vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour before serving. [8]

Senate Ham and Bean Soup

The soup photos I ended up with for my post don't really give justice to the beauty of this soup, and of course, the soup was long gone before I uploaded the shots I took. I can assure you of one thing though. This soup is divinely delicious! It was gone in no time at our house and I was left with that wish I had more feeling.

You've all heard of it before of course - the famous ham and bean soup based on the one on the menu at the Senate every day. Like any legendary food, there is debate over who should be credited with creating it. One story attributes it to Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho, whose version includes mashed potatoes. Another credits Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, whose recipe does not include the potatoes, but adds braised onion. I sort of combined the best of the two with a few of my own twists, to create this version.

Senate bean soup is made with navy pea beans, rather than other white beans such as the northern beans. Though I have, typically, I am finding that with the low and slow cook involved, smaller white beans don't really need to soak or speed cook. Since some folks seem to prefer soaking, I have included that in the instructions. I prefer Camellia brand beans, but use whatever brand you like.

The key to making this soup super flavorful as always though, is first creating a stock from the ham hocks or ham bone used. I try to always keep a few hocks in the freezer and typically buy the store brand of whatever is available, but The Cajun had picked up this big, fat, beautiful and meaty package of pork hocks on his last stop for me. I used the larger piece shown on the left for this pot of beans. Select the best ones you can find.

If you don't have a very meaty pork hock, you'll definitely want to add in some chopped smoked ham with this soup, so it's a good time to pull out one of those holiday chunks you saved in the deep freeze. I use a pretty standard stock recipe of celery, carrot, onion, parsley, bay leaves and whole peppercorns, and let that go for a good hour before going forward with the rest of the recipe.

When you don't have the time to make a ham stock for the soup or cook down the dried beans, you can still get a pretty good version of ham and bean soup using a few shortcuts. I've included that in my cook's notes with the recipe, just in case you're short on time, but would still like to make a nice ham and bean soup.

Here's what I did that's a little different I think than most Senate bean soup recipes that you see. First, I boiled 1 large chopped baking potato along with 1-1/2 cups of chopped onion, a chopped rib of celery and a large chopped garlic clove. Then I mashed that all together with a bit of bacon drippings (or sub in butter) and added it to the soup pot, along with the diced ham.

I had some baked ham leftover, so even though I had a nice, meaty ham hock, I did add some diced ham too.

What a wonderful soup, and I really do love the addition of the fresh potatoes mashed in with the veggies.

Recipe: U.S. Senate Ham and Bean Soup

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 2 hours 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 pound of meaty smoked ham hocks
  • Water to cover (about 7 cups )
  • 1 celery stalk (rib) , rinsed but untrimmed, with leaves and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large carrot , unpeeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion , unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
  • 1 pound of dry navy (pea) beans , soaked overnight
  • 1 large baking potato , peeled and diced
  • 1-1/2 cups of chopped onion
  • 1 celery stalk (rib) , chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove , minced
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings or butter
  • 1 cup of finely diced smoked ham , optional
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt , or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper , or to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning , to taste, optional

Soak beans overnight to speed the cooking process. Add the hocks to a stockpot and cover with water. Add the remaining stock ingredients, bring mixture to a boil, reduce and simmer for 1 hour. Strain stock, discarding the vegetables and returning the ham hocks and the stock to the soup pot.

Rinse and sort through the beans, add to the soup pot bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 1 hour longer. Remove ham hock and once cooled enough to handle, dice meat from the hock, discarding skin and bone. Add the meat to the soup pot.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the potato, onion, celery and garlic all at once, return to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash with the bacon drippings or butter add to soup pot, along with the diced ham, if using bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer another 25 to 30 minutes, or until beans are tender. Taste, season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning adjust as needed, serve hot.

Cook's Notes: Like all beans, soup will thicken when refrigerated. To loosen, add chicken broth when reheating, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Shortcut This: You can shortcut this recipe for a quick weeknight soup by omitting the ham hock or bone, and substituting a commercial ham or chicken broth for the homemade stock, adding in 2 tablespoons of chicken base. Include the remaining soup seasonings and the chopped, smoked ham and substitute 4 cans of navy beans, drained and well rinsed, for the dried beans, mashing one can to add creaminess to the soup. Mix together over medium heat until completely heated through.

Instant Pot: To prepare stock, add the pork hocks and remaining stock ingredients to pot, seal pot and set manually for 60 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Strain out all solids, setting aside the hocks. Add remaining soup ingredients to pot, except for the seasonings, seal and set on manual for 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully release remaining pressure manually. Remove lid and set to sauté, if desired, to thicken to desired consistency. Pick meat off of the hock and add to soup.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 (4 ounce) package Idahoan® Roasted Garlic Flavored Mashed Potatoes, dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 (32 fluid ounce) containers vegetable stock
  • 1 smoked ham bone
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in stock pot over medium high heat.

Add chopped onion, celery, and carrots and cook until they begin to to soften slightly.

Add vegetable stock and ham bone. Bring to boil and reduce heat simmer for an hour.

Remove ham bone from pot and pick off ham return meat to pot. Add the beans.

Add package of Idahoan Roasted Garlic Flavored Mashed Potatoes and stir thoroughly.

Mix in chopped parsley and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and serve.

McGuire’s Senate Bean Soup

1 large ham bone, preferably with bits of meat left on it

2 stalks of celery, including leaves, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

16 turns freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the beans and place in a large bowl. Add the water and let the beans soak overnight, covered.

When ready to start cooking, drain the beans and place in a large pot with the ham bone. Add cold water to cover, plus an additional two inches. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile make a cheesecloth pouch containing the bay leaf and cloves. When the water is boiling add the pouch, onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours.

Remove the pouch and the bone. Shred the meat and add it back to the soup before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Senate Bean Soup

This recipe for Senate Bean Soup is served every day at the Senate restaurant and has been on the menu since the early 20th century. If you are looking for something to serve it with, be sure to check out Homemade Bread Recipes.

Click here to view all of our Bean Soup Recipes and Soup Recipes.

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Senate Bean Soup Recipe Card Details

Senate Bean Soup Recipe Card Front

Front of the recipe card for Senate Bean Soup.

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Senate Bean Soup Recipe

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United States Senate Bean Soup

Bean Soup is served in all eleven dining rooms of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. every day.

One story has it that Senator Fred Thomas Dubois of Idaho, who served in the Senate from 1901 to 1907 and sat as chairman of the committee that supervised the Senate Restaurant, gaveled through a resolution requiring that the bean soup be on the menu every day.


  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 cups Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 2 cups Dried Navy Beans
  • 2 pounds Ham Bone Or Ham Hock
  • 6 cups Water
  • ⅛ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoons White Pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Salt To Taste
  • 1 leaf Bay Leaf
  • ½ cups Celery, Thinly Sliced
  • ½ cups Carrots, Diced


Bean Soup is served in all eleven dining rooms of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. every day.

One story has it that Senator Fred Thomas Dubois of Idaho, who served in the Senate from 1901 to 1907 and sat as chairman of the committee that supervised the Senate Restaurant, gaveled through a resolution requiring that the bean soup be on the menu every day.

1. In a black cast iron pot, heat butter over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion to the pot stir to evenly coat with butter.
3. Reduce the heat to over medium-low heat.
4. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and translucent.
5. Wash the Navy beans by covering with cold water and remove any that float.
6. Put the washed beans and ham hock in the black cast iron pot and add enough water to make 6 cups.
7. Add spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the Navy beans are soft, about one hour.
8. Remove the bay leaf and the ham bone/hock.
9. When the ham hock is cool enough to handle, dice the ham and return it to the soup.
10. Add the celery, carrots and ham steak cubes to the pot.
11. Stir and bring to simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
12. Serve hot.

Watch the video: Senate Bean Soup


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