Senate White Bean Soup!

  
 
This is called 'Senate' white bean soup, because it has been served in the United States Senate dining room for over 100 years and has always been a big favorite there.  This particular recipe was given to me by a dear lady years ago who was one of the best southern cooks I have ever known.  She and her husband served as the directors over the Southern Baptist Association in our county.  The summer after I graduated from college I worked at the missions office, as did my sister, and we really grew to love Reverend and Mrs. Tallant.   They were just wonderful people.  This soup always reminds me of them.
 
Mrs. Tallant would cook a nice lunch for everyone each day and we would all eat at the office there, because at night or in the afternoon, myself and two or three other girls would get in my little car and travel all over our county to the small rural churches and help them conduct their Bible schools.  It was a lot of fun, but it makes me tired just thinking about it now.  Needless to say, we needed those nourishing lunches.  
 
 This soup was something she would make for the monthly pastor's luncheon.   All of the ministers in the area would come together for a meeting once a month or sometimes twice and Mrs. Tallant would have a nice meal prepared for them.  I think that is what got a lot of them to the meeting actually.  This basic recipe makes quite a bit of soup for a family, but if you are feeding a crowd like she did, you can double it.   Here is what you'll need:
 
 
1 lb. navy or great northern beans
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated or shredded carrot
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 ham hock or meaty ham bone
2 cups chopped ham (can use country ham or smoked ham)
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
 
 




 
Wash and sort the beans.  Place in your soup pot or dutch oven and cover with water about an inch over the top of the beans.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for just a few minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain well.  Place back in the pan with about 2 quarts of water.  Add the chopped celery, onion, garlic, and shredded carrot. Add the ham hock or ham bone and the bacon drippings.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring up to a boil then turn down to simmer and simmer covered for about an hour.

Add the chopped ham and cook for about 2 more hours on medium low heat.  Remove 2 cups of the beans and mash them with a fork and return to pot.  This just thickens the soup. Also, remove the ham hock or ham bone and trim any of the lean meat from it. Discard the fat and bone.  Cook for about 30 more minutes.  The soup should be nice and thick at this point.  Taste for seasoning, depending on what type of ham you used, you might need more salt.  If you used country ham, you probably won't need any additional salt.
Senate White Bean Soup!
 



26 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, I haven't seen this recipe in years! It is so good, and I think it's high time it made a repeat appearance in my soup pot! Thank you for sharing, I LOVE your posts.

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  2. This sounds like the soup i make,i call it Navy Bean Soup...don't remember where i got the recipe.

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  3. Love your recipes!! Thank you for sharing! Election day tomorrow will be rainy so a homemade soup will be perfect while watching the voting results!!!

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  4. Are those hoecakes that I see laying next to the soup?

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  5. Can you post the recipe for hoecakes?

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  6. I love this soup. We call it navy bean soup. But no matter what you call it YUM on a cold night with hoecakes or corn bread. you can even add some potatoes to it.

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  7. I use the same basic recipe except I use chicken breast instead of ham and bacon drippings and use a small can of mild green chili peppers in place of the tabasco. Makes it more heart healthy with less salt and fat.

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  8. I grew up on Navy bean soup. I am going to make this real soon with some skillet cornbread. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. you can buy organic beans that are in bins at you health food store. this is so tasty ! my mom and dad raised 15 kids so beans was very much part of our diet. when i hear someone say we can't afford to eat healthy, i point them to beans and black rice. i think sometimes they just don't want to take the time to prepare the meal! my mom made everything from scratch and we ate healthy before there was fast foods!

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  10. I have made this recipe many times. I even serve fried corn bread with it...We Love it! Thank you so much for so many wonderful recipies.

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  11. When I don't have celery on hand, I gently stir in a can of cream of celery soup to my beans towards the end of cooking them..Gives it a great flavor, I actually like the soup better than using the fresh celery. Been doing this for years and my family loves it.

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    1. I skip all the vegetables, then use a rich chicken stock instead of water after parboiling the beans, and I always get raves.

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  12. As a child, I suffered from severe allergies and was very limited in the foods I could eat. Navy beans were permitted, and I grew to love my mother's version, which I ate several times a week. A few years later, I was introduced to this recipe when I visited the Senate Dining Room on our family's almost yearly trips to Washington, DC. It's a favorite--thanks for reprinting the recipe!

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  13. This is the best bean soup ever!!! I have made it several times. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I like to add tomatoes to my navy bean soup. That was my oldest sister Jean's favorite. Jean passed away in 2001. Rotel tomatoes would be really good in it.

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  15. I would love to make it but am on a low sodium diet and cannot have the ham. I wonder if there is anything else that would work in it? I'm thinking maybe barbeque'd pork. It has the smoky taste but no salt in it.

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  16. Am going to try this , sounds so good

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  17. Our local hospital makes this all the time but adds a secret ingredient. Kale.

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  18. Made this recipe tonight. My Husband and myself both loved it. Reminded me of my grandmother' cooking . Highly recommend it and will make again !!

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  19. Now....please tell me how to make the "fried" cornbread cakes....hubby and I love to go to a miniature donkey sale in TN...just so we can get this delicious bread with pintos...i've tried to make it without a recipe and it just didn't turn out well...usually, as my granny would say, "I'm a purty good hand at cooking whatever without anybody's ritten down help." But not this one....LOL

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    1. Here is the link to the fried cornbread and I will also post it on Facebook so hopefully you will see it: http://sweetteaandcornbread.blogspot.com/2012/03/cornbread-hoe-cakes.html

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  20. Can this be adapted to a slow cooker and still get a thick soup?

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    1. Yes, definitely, especially if you have a newer model slow cooker that really gets hot on high. Crank that baby up to high for the last hour and it will thicken your soup. You might want to take the top off the cooker or vent it some so some reduction can occur. You can also mash about 1 cup of the beans to make the soup thicker.

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  21. I've been looking for this recipe for a while now. I too have heard it called Navy Bean Soup. I'm using Great Northern instead and omitting the ham and using fat back. My husband put it in the crockpot this morning and forgot that I wanted to make this recipe, that's the reason for the variation. I think it will still be tasty. I'm still trying to decide between Tabasco and Rotel. Can't wait to taste it! Thank you for sharing.

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  22. Is it ok to soak the beans overnight before cooking or is that not recommended for this recipe? Thanks

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