Saturday, January 23, 2010
My husband LOVES beans any way you can make them and so I do use them frequently to make him smile. He loves Portuguese Bean Soup and one of his favorites is Senate Bean Soup, like his mother used to make. After Christmas we got a big ham which I smoked and then used in a variety of ways, but as with any ham... there is always that bone calling to be put into a pot to make one more dish and usually that includes legumes of some sort.
Senate Bean Soup is really just a very simple way of making Navy Bean Soup. It is served every day in the US Senate Dining Room. There are two stories of how this came to be, on is that early in the 20th century, Senator Fred Thomas Dubois of Iowa (who was interestingly both a Republican and a Democrat) requested that it be served and henceforth it has been. However, his version of the soup has mashed potatoes in it and the recipe that has been served in the Senate Dining Room does not. There is a second story that Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota requested the soup be served in 1903 and it became an instant hit with the senators. His version did not have mashed potatoes and is much like what is served in the Dining Room today. Regardless, the soup is a mainstay in the Senate Dining Room to this day.
I tend to put my own mark on even the most simple of recipes, and so my recipe is slightly different, but adds only a few nuances to the pot. The result is a hearty and delicious soup which is great served with cornbread on a winter afternoon. It is equally nutritious and economical. My husband, for whatever reason adds ketchup to it, where I add some sliced Hawaiian Peppers and lots of crushed black pepper. Here is my take on Senate Bean Soup:
1 large ham bone or three smoked ham hocks
5 quarts of stock or broth (water can be used if you don't have stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or stock can be used)
1 Pound of Navy Beans (soaked over night and rinsed)
3 carrots chopped coarsely
2 Large shallots and 1 onion chopped finely
3 stalks of celery chopped finely
9 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely (same size as the carrots)
1 bunch of parsley chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste ( about a teaspoon of each)
In a large stock pot, add oil and the onions, carrots and celery. Sauté till the onions are slightly transparent. Make a hot spot in the bottom of the pan, add garlic and allow to simmer for just a moment, then stir all together. When the onions start to turn golden, add the potatoes and stir again. De-glaze the pan with the wine or stock. Then add the beans, & ham bone/hocks. Generously salt and pepper. Turn heat on medium low and simmer for an hour. Taste. The beans should be soft, but not mushy and the carrots and potato should also be cooked through. Remove ham bone, add any ham meat leftover (more is always better when it comes to ham.) Stir in 1/2 of the parsley. Dish into bowls and sprinkle remaining parsley over all.
*Note, "Senator" Wes says this should be served with cornbread and maple syrup.