Senate Bean Soup

4 servings

To soak beans: In a large bowl, cover beans with water by 2 inches and let soak for 8-10 hours (overnight) and drain. Alternatively, place beans in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and tightly cover pan with plastic wrap. Let sit for an hour.

In a large heavy pot, combine beans with ham hock, bay leaf and 12 cups of water. Bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are just tender. Stir in onion, celery, carrot, potato and garlic. Simmer for another hour or until soup is very thick. Remove ham hock and strip off meat from bone, discarding the rind and fat. Stir meat into soup and season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley and serve hot.

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    This is delicious. I added 3 potatoes, yukon gold, instead of one. When everything was tender I put about 3 cups of potatoes, beans and broth in the blender to puree and add back into the soup. Super soup!
    One of my favorite soups!!! Absolutely delicious...I "mash" my beans toward the end of the cooking process and it makes the soup VERY thick. I also add a final ingredient: about a teaspoonful of ground cloves...YUM!
    This is a good basic recipe, but you can alter it as you see fit. I used a large bone with plenty of meat attached to it from the leftovers of an Easter ham, so I increased all the other ingredients accordingly. It was so flavorful I did not need to use broth instead of water, and it needed no salt. It came out very thick by the time the beans were done, but it took a long time. I used small mixed beans and a combination of red and white onions. Besides the garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, bay leaves, and ground black pepper, I also added dried thyme, toasted caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, and fresh rosemary. I just kept throwing in things I had on hand, to taste, as it cooked. It's a very adaptable recipe, but I think you do need more than one ham hock for the desired meaty flavor.
    My husband & I love ham & bean soup and this recipe filled the bill. I used 6 cups of chicken broth and 6 cups of water, an extra ham hock and eliminated the potatoes. I also added extra ham.
    Way too much water and not enough beans. I like my bean soup thicker and not so watery. I wish I would of made Paula Dean's receipe for senate bean soup.
    This recipe cooks down to a nice tthick soup. I like to add some white wine a couple of minutes before taking it off the stove.
    If you want the authentic recipe that is actually prepared for the Senate in the cafeterias and dining room, it's at This recipe on foodnetwork is fine, just cut back to 8 or 9 cups of water if you love it really thick. And, you have to use your instincts about how much hock or ham bone you use and if something doesn't feel right about a recipe, use your common sense. Obviously, a little 4 oz hock will not flavor this soup well. I used a bone with meat on it from a smoked ham - it was probably about 22 oz, and it worked great. I've worked for the Senate for years, and have eaten the bean soup many times. It's an institution, but not something that would be served in a 4 star restaurant!
    My family loves this soup! I use leftover Honey-Baked Ham (with bone) to make it and it turns out delicious!
    I found this soup very flavorful. I added 5 chicken bouillon cubes to the water initially. I also added a cut up carrot, a cut up stalk of celery and a 3" piece of leek (from the top section), cut up, and cracked pepper. After the first hour, I took out the bigger pieces of carrot & celery. I then took out the bone and the bigger pieces of meat. I stripped the bone and put it back in the pot with the veggies to be added at this time. Instead of regular onion, I diced 1 small red onion and cut up the remainder of the leek and added them to the pot. I followed the recipe to the end by taking out the bone & bay leaf and added back some some shredded ham. These additions made a very good soup.
    This is a great starter recipe. To kick it into requests for thirds, try the following. Substitute 1/2 of the water with low sodium chicken broth. Add two dashes of hot pepper sauce. If available, use the bone from a spiral cut ham. You can stick blend a cup of the beans/veg's if you like it thicker. I find that the second day, the potatoes naturally break down for added thickness.
    Every rescipe can be adjusted to taste. It's ok to add Ham pieces as I did and you can season to taste. To make this soup alittle thicker take about a cup of the beans out at the end of cooking and put them in the blender, mix and return to soup.
    Very tasty.
    Can anyone tell me is this bean soup a thick one? That's what I'm looking for, thanks
    I always double this recipe. I use only 16 cups of water and it is a perfect bean soup.
    This soup has tons of flavor. The beans weren't mushy. I loved it.
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