The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

"Whatever uncertainties may exist in the Senate of the United States, one thing is sure: Bean Soup is on the menu of the Senate Restaurant every day. The origins of this culinary decree has been lost in antiquity, but there are several oft-repeated legends. 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. Another account attributes the bean soup mandate to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who expressed his fondness for it in 1903. In any case, Senators, and their guests, are always assured of this hearty, nourishing dish. They know they can rely upon its delightful flavor and epicurean qualities. (Recipe from the Honourable and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, IV, U.S. Senator, West Virginia.)"
photo by ChefLee photo by ChefLee
photo by ChefLee
photo by ChefLee photo by ChefLee
photo by ChefLee photo by ChefLee
Ready In:
3hrs 50mins




  • Take two pounds of small Michigan navy beans, wash and run through hot water until beans are white again.
  • Put on the fire with four quarts of hot water.
  • Then add smoked ham hocks, boil slowly approximately 3 hours in covered pot.
  • Braise one chopped onion in a little butter, and when light brown put it into the soup.
  • Season with salt and pepper then serve.
  • Do not add salt until ready to serve.

Questions & Replies

  1. can this be made in crock pot?


  1. This is a wonderful bean soup recipe. I intend to use it this fall for football tailgate parties. My soup, while having great flavor, was a little short on the meat. The smoked ham hocks I used were the last pound and a half the store had the day I was shopping. I'm going to increase the ham hock amount from 1 1/2 lbs. to 3 lbs. next time. The volume of soup using the basic recipe was just right and allowed me to have additional meals. I work various shifts, and when I'm on the late shift I don't like to cook much so I prepare what I think I may want to eat that week in advance. This is a keeper!
  2. I made this for supper and it was absolutly perfect. I had saved two ham bones in the freezer, so they were thrown in along with 2 small ham hocks. The only change I made is that, roughly about half was blended up in a blender, then added back in to the pot to make a creamier soup. This made a huge pot of soup and half went into the freezer for my stash. It was the ticket for a day when we were having an ice storm, very comforting! Wonderful with skillet corn bread.
  3. Super!!!! This has the perfect creamy texture with lots of beans! It's exactly like I thought the Senate Bean Soup would taste!! One of the best parts is that it cost around 5 U.S. dollars for a huge vat of hearty soup!!! My beans were soft and cooked at around 2.6 hours simmering so I began my onions then. I loved the method of braising the onions later and adding them at the end!!!!! This is where I added my seasoning, I added all the pepper to my onions and just a pinch of salt since hocks have plenty of salt. The onions gave a great flavor to the soup and they were visible which made the soup look so wonderful!!!! I will definitely use this method again in other soups!!! I love this soup and the history behind it too!!! Thanks so much for posting!!!
  4. I adore this recipe! I found it very smooth, and seriously soothing. I like this soup as it is written, and made it as such. I made this as directed, and it was perfect. I used ham hocks, and wonderful beans. Keep going my MilleR. RIP.
  5. As with all great bean soup recipes, at least half the beans and liquid MUST BE PUREED after removing the hamhocks in order to achieve not only the texture but also the complex flavors of the soup. This recipe is okay, so far as it goes, but for really great bean soup, you need to make Zuppa di Fagioli, the great white bean soup from Tuscany. There are many variations on that recipe but if you can find one direct from Tuscany or one of the great restaurants in Florence or Sienna, you will understand what I am talking about.


Gavin "Miller" Duncan passed away November 12, 2004 in Laurel, MD from complications of a "broken" heart. The outpouring of support from the Recipezaar community while his health was declining was a huge comfort to him and even "perked him up" a bit in his final month. Miller was a huge asset to Recipezaar, not only due to his incredible collection of recipes, but his participation in the forums. Miller was known for his wonderful low-sodium recipes, his warmth, and last, but not least, his wicked, dry sense of humor. Liza at Recipezaar ********************************************************* No, the picture to the left is not me. It is, in fact, a picture of famous TV Chef Jamie Oliver (a/k/a Thpit Boy)’s grandfather, the late Sir Topaz McWhacker. Note the strong family resemblance, most noticeable in the nose, eyebrows, and general lack of cleanliness Legend has it that Topaz taught Thpit everything that he knows about whacking and about only washing and combing his hair twice a year. . Instead of the trivia that many Recipezaar members have displayed on their “About Me” pages, I thought it might be a tad more helpful if I were to provide some beneficial information that you can put to good practical use either in your own kitchen or when you are watching the antics of some celebrated TV chefs. So, for your enlightenment..... . . Chairman Kaga: When he says “Ion Shff”, he really means “Iron Chef” or, perhaps, “I need a Kleenex” . Chef Paula Deen: When she says “awl”, she really means “oil”. When she says “y’all”, she really means “everyone except m’all”. When she says “bring the water to a bawl”, I have no clue what she means - I thought you could only make a baby “bawl”. And, boys and girls, you can easily Deenize the sentences that you use in your very own kitchen, such as “All y’all can bawl your corn in olive awl or wrap it in aluminum fawl”. . Emeril Lagasse: When he says “confectionery sugar’, he really means “confectioners’ sugar”. When he says “pappa-reeka”, he really means “paprika”. When he says “inside of”, he really means “in”. When he says “a little”, he really means “a lot”. Have you ever tried to count the number of times he says “a little” during any given show? Don’t – it will drive you nuts. When he says “cardamin”, he really means “cardamom”. When he says “my water don’t come seasoned”, what he really means is “I need a new joke writer”. When he says “that www dot food thing”, he really means “I flunked Computerese 101”. . Iron Chef Morimoto: When he says “Foo Netwu”, he really means “Food Network”. . Dessert Dude Jacques Torres: When he says “I going”, he really means “I am going”. (The verb “to be” has apparently been deleted from the French language.) . Spit Boy Jamie Oliver: When he says “whack it in the oven”, he really means “I am into hot, kinky stuff”. When he says “Bob’s yer uncle”, what he really means is “you’d better ask your aunt how well she REALLY knew that mailman named Robert”. When he says “rocket”, he really means “an older weapon being used in Iraq”. When he says “Fewd Netwuk”, he really means “Food Network”. . Numerous chefs: When they say “codfish” and “tunafish”, what they really mean is “cod” and “tuna”, respectively. Please note that they use these terms so that you don’t go out and buy “codanimal” or “tunavegetable” by mistake. Having said that, I have no clue as to why they don’t refer to “troutfish”, “salmonfish”, “red snapperfish”, etc., etc. . Giggly-Wiggly Rachael Ray: When she says “EVOO”, she really means “don’t use BOCO (boring old corn oil)”. When she says “a little lettuce action going on”, she really means “with only 8 minutes left in the game, cabbages are still in the lead, but lettuces are making a strong comeback”. . Two Fat Ladies: When they say “I gwing”, they really mean “I am going” or “Sorry, but we have been watching too many episodes of Jacques Torres’ show”. . Please note that the above is not all-inclusive. If there are other celebrity chef words or phrases that have you stumped, please post an "ISO" message in the discussion forums and I will find the translation for you.
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