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Senate Bean Soup

User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


Senate Bean Soup
Alexandra Grablewski/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Senate Bean Soup

A version of this classic bean soup has been served in the U.S. Senate dining room for over 100 years. It can be made with Navy beans or Great Northern beans. The traditional recipe calls for a cup of mashed potatoes, but 2/3 cup of instant mashed potato flakes will do the job — and makes your job simpler.

Prep Time: 8 hours

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 11 hours


  • 1 lb dried Navy beans or Great Northern beans
  • 1 ham hock (the meatier, the better)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 qt vegetable broth or stock
  • 2/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste


  1. Soak the beans in water overnight. Make sure the beans are covered with a couple of inches of water as they can expand somewhat.

  2. Drain the beans. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, combine the vegetable stock, the drained beans and the ham hock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

  3. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, occasionally skimming off any scum that forms on the surface.

  4. In a separate saucepan, heat the butter over a low-to-medium heat.

  5. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously.

  6. Add the wine and cook for another minute or two or until the wine seems to have reduced by about half.

  7. Add the onion mixture, parsley and the potato flakes to the soup and simmer for another hour or until the beans are tender.

  8. Remove the ham hock. Pull the meat off the bone, chop it up and return the chopped meat to the soup. If necessary, add more stock or water to the soup to adjust the thickness.

  9. Season to taste with Kosher salt and white pepper and serve right away.
Serves 8.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The Soup That Keeps Congress Talking, Member Tx2u

I have cooked this recipe, and slight variations of it for decades. It is wonderful on a winter day. The potato flakes do work almost as well as mashed. The one comment that almost all guests who have tried it say if eaten for a late dinner is that they have a hard time sleeping that night . It seems to be a stimulant or energizer. With that caveat, I highly recommend it as a side or main dish.

17 out of 19 people found this helpful.

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