Eating Local: Senate Bean Soup Recipe

I’m really trying to eat local these days. I like organic but will take local over organic.  It’s tough to do a week’s shopping at the Farmer’s Market though and I really don’t feel like shopping on Saturday morning. Many years’ habit of shopping on Sundays to overcome. I tend to plan the menus, if I do, on Saturdays and shop Sundays.   But I am trying!

This week I bought 2 avocados, 2 artichokes (I am growing them but mine are not producing yet), and leeks! Oh, plus these dried Italian Butter Beans from Iacopi Farms in Half Moon Bay.  One year I grew some beans for dried beans and they were fun and good, but I fell out of the habit so I’m happy to see some local dried beans available.  I turned these into soup with the ham bone I had from the ham I did NOT cook at Easter, when I got sick.

The recipe is basically  from Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition – 2006, although I used these butter beans rather than small white beans and adapted a few other minor things. Really good!  The recipe is called Senate Bean Soup and has been served at the Senate since 1901 they say. I can see why.

  • 1 pound dried white beans, soaked 6 hours or so. (Start in the morning.)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 7-8 cups water
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 Russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans about 6 hours. These beans really swelled up, which I took as a sign that they were fresher than what I typically buy at the store!  Drain the beans, then add to 7 cups of water in a stockpot or Dutch oven, along with a ham bone or a ham hock.  Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the beans are tender, 1 – 1.5 hours.

Remove the ham bone or ham hock, cut off any meat and dice it and add it back to the beans. Discard the bone.

Add the potato, onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Add more water if needed.

Cook another 30 minutes or so until the potato is tender.  The Joy of Cooking recipe said to mash it together but I left it all whole because the beans were so beautiful!  And we like beans here!

I did add another cup of water at the point I added the potato and other veggies. It just depends on how much broth you want versus stew like consistency and how much your beans absorb.

This was really good. I have often made  a white bean soup with just the ham bone and onion before before and I have to say that is good too. Simple is nice. But the potato and celery add a nice touch.  Forgot to take a picture but will try to remember to add it when I have leftovers for lunch!




  1. Mmmmm. That sounds so good.

    I usually add a clove or two and a couple of bay leaves to the pot (in a tea ball, hanging on the edge of the pot)


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