An American classic, Senate Bean Soup has been served in the Senate dining room on Capitol Hill every day for over 100 years! There was just one day in a whole century, during severe rationing on September 14, 1943 they ran out of beans. By the next day more beans were found, and bean soup has been ladled up without interruption ever since.
Traditional Senate Bean Soup is simple, made with navy beans, ham hocks, onion, butter, salt, and pepper. What? No vegetables? Well, I made a few healthful improvements to the recipe. This version is nutritious, flavorful and satisfying. When you taste it, you’ll agree the Senate should definitely adopt my recipe. It’s a true vitamin powerhouse, loaded with nutrient-dense veggies.
Even better, this recipe won’t make you gassy. (Think about it – all those senators and lobbyists on Capitol Hill…) We know that soaking and sprouting beans makes beans much easier to digest, without the usual – ahem – side effects. Sprouting boosts the vitamin and mineral availability, as the bean begins to take root and become a plant. Sprouting also increases protein content by as much as 30%, and reduces carb content. White beans are especially rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, and they’re low in sugars.
Here’s how to sprout beans – It’s so easy!
1. Soak 2 cups white beans in filtered water for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse. Put them in a Mason jar with a screen lid or cloth over the top so it can drain.
2. Set the jar in a bowl so it stays upside down at an angle, allowing air to get in, so the beans can drain. Rinse daily for 2-3 days. Now they’re sprouted and ready to cook!
I love Canada, Canadians, and I prefer Canadian bacon because it’s leaner, made from the back. It has a completely different flavor from American bacon strips, which are made from the fat belly. Canadian bacon is thicker, which makes for bigger flavor bites in a soup. If you can’t find Canadian bacon, no worries, this soup will taste terrific with any bacon or ham – just make sure it’s organic or non-GMO. Shiitake mushrooms add a special flavor zing, and an amazing nutritional profile, including 18% protein content, high potassium, B vitamins, with antiviral and immunity boosting properties.
You’re going to love this soup! I think it’s more delicious and deeply satisfying than the original recipe, plus you can make it at home economically and save the expensive bus fare to Washington CD. I don’t even know if they allow folks like us in the Senate dining room. This recipe is designed for making ahead and freezing. Store leftovers in the refrigerator 3 days, or freeze in serving-sized containers for up to three months. Serves 6 with leftovers.
- 2 cups dry white beans, soaked 8-12 hours, drained, and rinsed.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces non-GMO bacon or ham slices, in 3/4-inch pieces.
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 large leek, washed and diced
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium zucchini 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 - 2 quarts homemade Bone Broth or unsweetened store-bought broth. (Imagine brand is the only one I know without sugar!)
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- Unprocessed salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 leaves kale or collard greens, in 1-inch strips or squares
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 3 pats of butter, grass-fed or organic (optional)
- Place the soaked, rinsed beans in a large soup pot and cover with filtered water and NO salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the heat and simmer at very low temperature 1-3 hours until they’re really soft and yummy.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bacon, and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Set it aside on a plate.
- To the skillet, add garlic and onion. Saute until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes.
- When the beans in the pot are soft, add the vegetables: celery, carrot, leek, mushrooms, and zucchini. Add the bacon, rosemary, salt, pepper, and kale. Cover with broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes.
- Season to taste with vinegar or lemon, butter, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!