Navy bean soup with smoked ham has appeared on the menus of the U.S. Senate’s restaurants every day since the early 20th century. This tradition is so ingrained in American culture, the soup has come to be known as “Senate Bean Soup.”

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 70 min

Total time: 75 min

Senate Bean Soup
Copyright Recipe © 2015 Woodland Foods


Makes 4 servings


  1. Place beans in large bowl, and cover with about three times their volume of water. Soak overnight. Drain.

  2. Transfer beans to large soup pot. Add ham hock and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour.

  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion to bean pot.

  4. Reduce heat to low. Remove ham hock, and let cool slightly. Remove meat, and finely chop. Return meat to soup.

  5. Lightly mash some beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to create creamy, thickened consistency.

  6. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.