Capital Cooks: The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

How has this bean soup stayed on the menu every day…for over a century??

There are two theories. The first theory suggests that Senator Fred Thomas Dubois is responsible for the soup’s longevity. He held his Senate seat from 1891-1897 and 1901 to 1907, but there are those who believe that he was also the chairman of a committee that was responsible for overseeing the Senate Restaurant. They say that position allowed him to mandate that the Bean Soup be a daily offering in perpetuum. Supporting this theory is the fact that the recipe originally included mashed potatoes, which makes sense since Senator Dubois hailed from Idaho.

The second theory attributes the request to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who served as a Senator from 1895 until his death. He expressed his fondness of the soup in 1903, so it’s entirely possible that he persuaded the restaurant to keep it on the menu indefinitely.

Either way, in the cold winter weather of January, there’s nothing more welcoming than the sight and smell of a hearty pot of soup simmering on the stove. Why not try this one for yourself, and discover why it’s so popular among Senators? Enjoy!

Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

  • 2 lbs small navy beans
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1½ lbs ham hocks
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash navy beans and run through hot water until beans are white again.

Place beans in a large pot with water and ham hocks.

Boil slowly for 3 hours, covered, and stir occasionally.

Braise the onion in butter until light brown.

Add beans to soup, season with salt* and pepper, and then serve.

Makes 8 servings.

*Do not add salt until you are ready to serve.

 

This recipe is from the book Capitol Hill Cooks by Linda Bauer. For more Presidential provisions, check out this recipe or this recipe!
photo credit: allaboutgeorge via photopin cc

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