Senate Bean Soup

Prep Time: 2½ Hours

Yields: 6–8 Servings


In early 1923, rumor states that Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota suggested that bean soup should be featured in the Senate dining room each day. The chef obliged and the tradition has carried on until today. This is a perfect fall and winter soup.


1 pound dried navy beans

¼ cup bacon fat

1 cup minced onions

½ cup minced celery

¼ cup thinly sliced garlic

½ pound smoked ham hock

2 quarts hot water

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions


Rinse dried beans twice, discarding any that are discolored or float to surface. Soak beans in cold water a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight. This process will cut the cooking time by one-third. Discard soaking liquid, rinse beans then set aside. In a 1-gallon, heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt bacon fat over medium-high heat. Stir in onions, celery and sliced garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add ham hock and continue to sauté 2–3 minutes. Stir in beans and hot water, bring mixture to a rolling boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and cook 1–1¼ hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste using salt, black pepper and granulated garlic. As beans become soft, mash a portion of them against side of pot with a cooking spoon. This will thicken soup and create a creamy consistency. Add more stock as needed to retain a soup-like consistency. Stir in green onions and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.