Bean soup as served in the U.S. Senate dining room

I lived in suburban Washington DC for most of my formative years. One of the things that formed in the aforementioned years was a strong impression that the government was full of beans. One day on a school visit to my senator I learned just how it was that the government got to be so full of beans, and I came away with the recipe. This is one of the best soups I have ever tasted. Serve it with a big loaf of fresh hot homemade whole-wheat bread, from which people just tear the bread with their fingers.

The House of Representatives serves a version without the onions and garlic and mashed potatoes.


(Serves 6)


  1. Wash the beans and remove those that float in the wash water. Soak beans overnight in enough water to cover them by several inches. Drain.
  2. In a large kettle, place 3 quarts of cold water. Add the drained beans and the ham bone, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. If scum forms on the surface, skim it off.
  3. Chop the onions, garlic, celery, and parsley. Add to the pot. Add the mashed potato to the pot. Simmer 1 more hour. Check the beans. If they are not yet tender, then simmer some more.
  4. Add salt and pepper. Remove the ham bone and pull the meat from it. Cut the meat into small chunks, and toss them back into the soup.
  5. Serve piping hot into preheated bowls, and sprinkle chopped fresh chives atop each.


Great Northern beans are an adequate substitute for Navy beans. If you forgot to soak them overnight and still want to make the soup, you can simmer them for an hour and then discard that water. The beans end up with slightly more flavor if you cold-soak them.

You can almost certainly get away with using instant mashed potato flakes to acquire the 1 cup of mashed potatoes that this recipe calls for.


Difficulty: easy.
Time: 8 hours soaking, 10 minutes preparation, 3 hours cooking.
Precision: no need to measure.


Brian Reid 
DEC Western Research, Palo Alto, California {ihnp4,decvax}!decwrl!reid 
Recipe last modified: 11 Jan 86

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Path: decwrl!recipes
From: reid@glacier (Brian Reid)
Subject: RECIPE: U.S. Senate Bean Soup
Message-ID: <4683@decwrl.DEC.COM>
Date: 8 Aug 86 05:16:48 GMT
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