Senate Bean Soup Recipe – A Must-Try Timeless Recipe

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Step into a world of tradition and taste with our Senate Bean Soup Recipe, a dish steeped in history and brimming with hearty goodness. Savor the robust blend of creamy navy beans, tender ham hocks, and aromatic vegetables, all simmering together to create a symphony of flavors. Each bite is a tribute to the timeless recipes of Capitol Hill, offering a bowl of comfort and a taste of American culinary heritage. Embrace the legacy, savor the richness, and let this Senate Bean Soup connect you to the soul of culinary tradition.

Welcome to a culinary journey that transcends time and politics – the enchanting tale of Senate Bean Soup Recipe. Often served in the heart of American governance, this humble yet hearty dish continues to captivate with its simplicity.

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Discover the tradition that has, for over a century, found its place amidst the bustling corridors of power. Explore its intriguing origins, decode its irresistible allure, and delve into its universally cherished recipe. 

Learn how to bring this revered soup from Capitol Hill’s hallowed halls to your kitchen table, savoring the authentic flavors of heritage, history, and harmony.

What Is Senate Bean Soup?

Senate Bean Soup is a classic American dish served over a century in the United States Senate’s dining room. With its roots deeply embedded in political tradition, this soup embodies simplicity and heartiness. Its main ingredients include navy beans, smoked ham hocks, and onions, creating a rich, comforting broth. 

A testament to timeless cuisine, Senate Bean Soup is a symbol of cultural continuity, reflecting the enduring essence of American culinary heritage from the high echelons of power to home kitchens across the nation.

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Can You Vary The Soup Ingredients?

Senate Bean Soup is a flexible dish that can be adapted to various dietary requirements. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keto Traditional Senate Bean Soup isn’t keto-friendly due to its high carbohydrate content from the beans. However, for a keto-friendly version, you could use lower-carb vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli instead of beans and high-fat meat like bacon.
  • Paleo Swap out the navy beans for a paleo-friendly ingredient like butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Ensure your ham hocks are not cured with any sugars or non-paleo additives.
  • Gluten-Free Good news – the traditional recipe is naturally gluten-free! Always double-check your ingredients, especially broth, to ensure they are gluten-free.
  • Whole30 Replace the navy beans with Whole30-compliant vegetables like zucchini or squash. As with the paleo version, make sure your ham hocks are Whole30-approved.
  • Vegetarian To make the soup vegetarian, omit the ham hocks and use vegetable broth. Add smoked paprika for a hint of smokiness.
  • Vegan Follow the vegetarian guidelines, and replace butter (if used for sautéing) with olive oil or a vegan butter substitute.
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Recipe Directions 

  • Put the dry great Northern beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them. Allow the beans to soak overnight.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the smoked ham shank and 4 cups of water. Simmer the ham shank for about 45 minutes.
  • Once the ham shank is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred it. Set aside the bone and shredded meat for later use. You can also reserve the stock from simmering the ham shank, if desired, to replace the ham base later on.
  • Drain the soaked beans and transfer them to an 8-quart pot.
  • Add 12 cups of fresh water to the pot along with the ham base. Alternatively, if you reserved the stock from step 3, measure it and add enough water to make a total of 12 cups of liquid, then use this mixture to eliminate the ham base.
  • Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, shredded ham, ham bone, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally and add additional water if needed to maintain the desired consistency. The soup should be thick enough to heavily coat a spoon.
  • Once the beans are tender and the soup has reached the desired consistency, your Senate Bean Soup is ready to serve.
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Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings

The beauty of Senate Bean Soup is its simplicity and versatility. Here are some variations, add-ons, and toppings that you can consider to personalize the dish:


  • Vegetables: Add veggies like diced tomatoes, bell peppers, or kale for extra nutrition and flavor.
  • Grains: You could add some barley or rice for texture and heartiness.
  • Spices: Depending on your taste preference, you can experiment with spices. Add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper for a little kick, or a bay leaf for a depth of flavor.


  • Protein: If you want more protein, add cubes of cooked chicken, turkey, or even sausage.
  • Legumes: Mix in other legumes like kidney beans or chickpeas for a twist.
  • Potatoes: Some versions of Senate Bean Soup include mashed potatoes. You could also add diced potatoes for a chunkier soup.
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Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

You can prepare Senate Bean Soup in either a slow cooker or an Instant Pot. Both methods offer convenience and hands-off cooking while delivering the soup’s signature hearty flavor. Here’s how you can do it:

Slow Cooker

  • Soak the beans overnight as in the traditional method.
  • Add the soaked and drained beans, ham hocks, diced onion, and other ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Cover with water (or broth for added flavor).
  • Set your slow cooker low for 7-8 hours or until the beans are tender.
  • Once cooked, remove the ham hocks, shred the meat, and return it to the slow cooker. Adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve.

Instant Pot

  • Using the sauté function, cook onions, celery, and carrots until softened.
  • Add the soaked and drained beans, ham hocks, and other ingredients into the pot. Cover with water or broth.
  • Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to the ‘Bean’ setting or manually set it to pressure cook on high for about 35-40 minutes.
  • Let the pressure release naturally for at least 15 minutes, then vent to release any remaining pressure.
  • Open the pot, remove the ham hocks, shred the meat, and return it to the pot. Adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve.
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Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

The choice between using store-bought broth or making your own for Senate Bean Soup comes from personal preference, time constraints, and dietary needs.

Store-Bought Broth

This is a convenient option and perfect for when you’re short on time. It can still deliver a flavorful soup. When selecting a store-bought broth, opt for low-sodium versions to control your soup’s salt level. Also, check the ingredients list to ensure there are no additives or preservatives you should avoid.

Homemade Broth

Making your broth gives you the most control over the flavors and the quality of ingredients. It’s a great way to use leftover bones and vegetable scraps, and it can be made in large batches and frozen for future use. Homemade broth often has a richer flavor than store-bought versions, which can elevate the taste of your soup.

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How To Serve?

Senate Bean Soup is a hearty, comforting meal, perfect for a standalone lunch or dinner. Here’s how you can serve it best:

  • Accompaniments: The soup pairs well with a side of crusty bread or cornbread, which is great for dipping and soaking up the flavorful broth. You could also serve it alongside a simple green salad for a lighter complement.
  • Garnish: A freshly chopped parsley or chives sprinkle can add a fresh and vibrant touch just before serving. If you want to add heat, a dash of hot sauce or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes works well.
  • Temperature: The soup is best served hot. If made ahead, gently reheat it on the stove until warm. Be sure not to boil the soup as it can make the beans mushy.
  • Presentation: Serve the soup in a deep bowl to keep it hot longer. A sprig of fresh herbs or a dollop of sour cream can add a visually pleasing touch to your dish.
  • Beverage Pairing: A glass of iced tea or a strong unsweetened apple cider could work well for a non-alcoholic option. If you prefer wine, a full-bodied white like Chardonnay or a light red like Pinot Noir could complement the smoky, rich flavors of the soup.
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Perfect Side Dishes

Senate Bean Soup is a rich and hearty dish that pairs best with lighter, complementary side dishes. Here are some suggestions:

  • Crusty Bread or Rolls: This is the most classic accompaniment to any soup. A fresh baguette or warm, crusty rolls are perfect for sopping up the flavorful broth.
  • Green Salad: A simple, fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing would provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty soup. It could include mixed greens, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and maybe some shaved Parmesan.
  • Cornbread: If you’re going for a Southern-style meal, cornbread is an excellent side for Senate Bean Soup. Its sweetness balances the savory soup nicely.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A classic grilled cheese sandwich can work well for a heartier meal. Opt for a sharper cheese to contrast the soup’s rich flavors.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Seasonal roasted vegetables would be a healthy and comforting side that complements the soup’s robustness.
  • Pickles or a Pickled Vegetable Salad: The acidity and crunch can contrast the smooth, rich soup.
  • Coleslaw: Similar to pickles, a tangy coleslaw would offer a refreshing contrast in flavor and texture.
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Storage And Make Ahead

Making Ahead:

  • Cook As Usual: Prepare the Senate Bean Soup according to your recipe. Let it fully cook to develop flavors.
  • Cool Down: Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before storing. This prevents condensation and bacterial growth.


  • Refrigeration: Transfer the cooled soup into airtight containers. It can be refrigerated for 3-4 days without losing its taste and nutritional value.
  • Freezing: For longer preservation, portion the soup into freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space for expansion. Properly labeled, the soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freezing in portions allows for easier thawing and reheating.
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What Can We Do With The Leftovers? 

Leftovers of Senate Bean Soup can serve as a versatile base for various delicious meals. Here are some ideas:

  • Bean Dip: Blend the soup into a smoother consistency, warm it up, and serve it as a dip for chips or veggies.
  • Bean Pasta Sauce: Reduce the soup on the stove until it thickens, and toss it with some pasta for a hearty meal.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Use the soup as a filling for bell peppers or zucchini boats and bake until tender.
  • Bean Burritos: Use the thickened soup to fill burritos or enchiladas, then bake.
  • Bean Casserole: Mix the soup with cooked rice or quinoa, top with cheese, and bake for a warm, comforting casserole.
  • Savoury Crepes: Use the soup as a filling for savory crepes.


  • Beans: Use dry navy beans for authenticity and soak them overnight to shorten cooking time and enhance digestibility. Rinse and drain before cooking.
  • Meat: Traditionally, a ham hock is simmered with the beans for a rich, smoky flavor. For a deeper taste, consider browning the ham hock slightly before adding it to the pot.
  • Broth: Start with a quality chicken, vegetable, or beef broth. The richer the broth, the more flavorful the soup.
  • Vegetables: Sauté onions, celery, and garlic until they’re soft before adding them to the soup. This step builds a foundational flavor.
  • Simmering: Allow the soup to simmer slowly. A gentle, prolonged cooking process tenderizes the beans and meat, marrying the flavors beautifully.
  • Seasoning: Season the soup towards the end of cooking to adjust the flavor accurately. Remember, the ham hock adds saltiness.
  • Thickness: For a thicker soup, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot near the end of cooking.
Senate Bean Soup Recipe - A Must-Try Timeless Recipe

Senate Bean Soup Recipe – A Must-Try Timeless Recipe

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Senate Bean Soup is a hearty, comforting dish with a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. This classic soup is known for its simple, humble ingredients – navy beans, ham, and a blend of vegetables and seasonings. 


  • 6 Cups 6 Dry Great Northern Beans

  • 3/4 Pound 3/4 Smoked Ham Shank

  • 12 Cups 12 Water

  • 3 Tablespoons 3 Ham Base

  • 1 1 Onion, Chopped

  • 1 1 Carrot, Chopped

  • 2 2 Celery Stalks, Chopped

  • 1 Teaspoon 1 Garlic Powder

  • Salt (To Taste)

  • Pepper (To Taste)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Steps
    Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight.
  • Cooking
    Simmer the ham shank with 4 cups of water over medium heat in a large saucepan for approximately 45 minutes.
    Once cooled, remove meat from the bone, shred the meat, and set both aside. Reserve the stock for later if desired.
  • Blending
    Drain the beans. In an 8-quart pot, combine the beans, 12 cups of fresh water, and ham base (or measured reserved stock with water to total 12 cups).
    Add the diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, shredded ham, ham bone, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Final Touches
    Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer for about 1.5 hours or until the beans are tender. Add water as needed to achieve a thickness that heavily coats a spoon.
  • Serving
    Discard the ham bone and serve the soup hot. Garnish with fresh parsley or croutons if desired.
  • Large Pot Or Dutch Oven
  • Sharp Knife And Cutting Board
  • Ladle
  • Measuring Cups And Spoons
  • Colander
  • Immersion Blender Or Standard Blender


  • Using Canned Beans: You can use canned beans as a quicker alternative. Be sure to rinse them well to remove excess sodium.
  • Smoky Flavor: If you don’t have a ham bone, use smoked turkey, bacon, or even a dash of liquid smoke for that characteristic smoky flavor.
  • Consistency: Senate Bean Soup should be thick enough to coat a spoon heavily, but the consistency can be adjusted to your liking. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water.

Nutrition Table

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