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Bean Soup - A Tradition in the U.S. Senate

Updated on January 27, 2015

Leftover Ham During the Holidays? Make Bean Soup - Famous in the U.S. Senate Dining Room

Ham during the holidays is one of my favorite dinners but then I have that leftover ham to deal with. Bean soup from the holiday ham is my families favorite leftover during the holiday season.

Bean soup is also on the menu in the Senate's restaurant every day and there are a few major stories as to the reason why.

The first story was the senator from Idaho, Senator Dubois requested his favorite soup be served in the dining room every day.(there are mashed potatoes in this version I believe because it was from the senator from Idaho!)

The second was Senator Nelson of Minnesota, In 1903 he told the chef how much he liked the bean soup and he would like to see it served every day.

Next we have Speaker of the House, Joseph G. Cannon (sometime around 1905). He went to the senate dining room one day and there was no bean soup on the menu, it is said that he told the chef "Thunderation, I had my mouth set for bean soup! From now on, hot or cold, rain, snow or shine, I want it on the menu every day." From then on bean soup was always on the senate dining room menu.

We will never know for sure who is responsible but there are many senators who love the bean soup and order it regularly.

photo credit

bean soup
bean soup

Cook Time

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6-8


  • 1 pound dry white beans
  • Large ham bone or 2 ham hocks
  • 2 onions
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 3 quarts hot water


  1. Wash white beans and soak in water overnight.
  2. Chop onions, celery, garlic and parsley into small pieces.
  3. Place ham bone and chopped vegetables into large soup pot and add water.
  4. Bring to a boil-then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  5. The beans should be tender.
  6. Remove ham bone or ham hocks from pot and cut the ham into serving sized pieces. Place ham pieces into soup.
  7. TIP: Smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the soup towards the end of the cooking time.
  8. HINT:For the recipe from Senator Dubois , add 1 quart mashed potatoes to the soup as it is cooking.
Cast your vote for Bean Soup Recipe

Soaking the Beans

soaking beans
soaking beans

It is important to wash and soak the beans. Make sure to pick out any discolored or shriveled beans before cooking.

NOTE: A quick method is to wash the beans and prepare the recipe with and extra two hours cooking time to soften the beans. Always test the beans to make sure they are done. It will not hurt the soup to keep it simmering. This is my favorite way of preparing my families favorite Bean Soup!

photo credit

Soup Bowls

Serving soup in a proper soup bowl makes for a lovely table.

Soup Tureens

A soup tureen makes serving your soup easy and stylish.

The Senate Kitchen Staff - Making the Bean Soup

Leftover from Leftovers!

The bean soup is great for one or two days but then it is time to try something new with the leftovers. In our house we thicken the soup that is left and make bean cakes!

Bean Cakes - Great Leftover Recipe

The leftover bean soup will thicken in the fridge and turns into the perfect consistency to make patties.

photo credit


  • leftover bean soup
  • two tablespoons flour (or rolled oats and the flax meal)
  • breadcrumbs to coat


  1. Mix the flour (or rolled oats and flax meal) into the leftover bean soup, the mix should be the consistency of soft dough.
  2. Form patties with your hands .(the size of a small hamburger)
  3. Cover the patties with bread crumbs.
  4. Place patties in a preheated, greased frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Cook until browned on both sides, approximately 5-8 minutes per side.

Please Stop and Say Hi! - What's your favorite homemade soup?

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    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 

      5 years ago

      I love a good bean soup and always am on the lookout for a new recipe. Thanks for sharing as they sound delicious. My grandmother made bean cakes when I was a kid, so that recipe is extra special. Cheers

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 

      5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Nice Lens, thank you. My very first and only recipe lens is about Pea & Ham Soup.

      But I was disappointed I could not make it as long as yours. Could not add modules etc.

      No one helped at Rocket Squids, and they never answered any questions. So no more of those

      new formats for me.

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      I want to make this using the ham bone left from our New Year's Day dinner. Always loved it as a kid. Mom would make it on laundry days and we would have cornbread with it.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 

      6 years ago

      Astute observation Deadicated, and much kinder than "No wonder they are full of ***" Anyway, I enjoyed the lens and the comment.

    • profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      6 years ago

      No wonder our Senators are full of hot air. Lol

      Thanks for sharing, I never heard of bean cakes, I'll have to try making them.


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