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Old 11-27-2005, 05:29 PM   #1
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REC - U.S. Senate Bean Soup




Bean soup is on the menu in the Senate's restaurant every day. There are several stories about the origin of that mandate, but none has been corroborated.
According to one story, the Senate’s bean soup tradition began early in the 20th-century at the request of Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho. Another story attributes the request to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who expressed his fondness for the soup in 1903.
The recipe attributed to Dubois includes mashed potatoes and makes a 5-gallon batch. The recipe served in the Senate today does not include mashed potatoes, but does include a braised onion. Both Senate recipes are below.

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.

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.

The above is from the U.S. Senate website. Here is the recipe that I use.

U.S. Senate Bean Soup

1 lb. dried navy or great northern beans, sorted, soaked overnight, and drained
12 cups cold water
2 meaty smoked ham hocks (2 lbs.)
3 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup mashed potatoes
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves

In an large pot, bring beans, water, and ham hocks to boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and skimming the surface, for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.

Stir in onions, celery, mashed potatoes, and garlic. Season with pepper and thyme. Raise heat to high and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer , covered for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer ham hocks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut meat into bite sized pieces, discarding the bones, and stir back into the soup.

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Old 11-27-2005, 08:36 PM   #2
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Cool story, and recipe!!! Thanks for sharing. Yum!!!
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Old 11-27-2005, 10:31 PM   #3
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Senator Everette Dirksen was the major mover and shaker behind getting the soup served everyday at the Senate Cafeteria. (in the 1960s) It is a good basic recipe and can be tweaked many ways as one likes.
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Old 11-27-2005, 11:11 PM   #4
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Once a year, at the Men's Closing tourney at the golf club I work at, it is a tradition to serve a hot bean soup at a couple key spots on the course. What's worse, is there are coolers stocked with cold beer EVERYWHERE. You do NOT want to be downwind of these guys the next day!
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:24 AM   #5
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Cool history lesson SierraCook, I'm always interested in the lore behind a dish. I think the inclusion of mashed potatoes is a neat one, haven't seen that in bean soup before
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:28 AM   #6
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Back in the early 1970's I worked in a U.S. Representative's office between high school graduation and entering college. I ate the Capitol cafeteria bean soup everyday. I had not thought about it in years, but this week I'll be making a batch for sure.

To quote Bob Hope, "Thanks for the memories."
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Old 11-28-2005, 11:23 AM   #7
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I have eaten in the Senate dining room twice and had the soup. It's great!

But I do not see a braised onion in the recipe directions
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Old 11-28-2005, 10:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
I have eaten in the Senate dining room twice and had the soup. It's great!

But I do not see a braised onion in the recipe directions

The first recipe says to lightly brown onion in butter. I think that is what they are talking about.

My soup turned out with great flavor, but I think that I would reduce the water by 2-3 cups. It was a little too watery for me. I have not made the recipe for a couple of years, so I guess I need to make myself a note on the recipe to reduce the amount of water.
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:21 AM   #9
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SierraCook:

I suppose you could call that "braised."

I am intrigued by your recipe -- especially the mashed potatoes! What do the potatoes do for the soup?

Though I have vowed not to even consider eating poultry, mashed potatoes, gravy or stuffing for at least 6 months , I could break that rule with the potatoes this weekend. I have a big ham bone in the freezer waiting to be made into something delicious.
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Old 11-29-2005, 09:54 PM   #10
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The mashed potatoes are a thickener. I have achieved the same results by mashing some of the beans and putting them back into the soup. I would definitely reduce the amount of water from twelve cups down to 8-10 cups, if you like a thicker less brothy soup.
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