Senate Bean Soup With Ham

Use a meaty ham bone or ham hocks for this hearty Senate bean soup. Senate bean soup is served in the Senate restaurant every day. Idaho Senator Fred Dubois purportedly requested the soup originally, which explains why his version includes mashed potatoes. These days, the soup is made with fewer ingredients. Included in the modern Senate bean soup are some lightly sauteed onions and no potatoes, garlic, or celery. It’s a very simple, stick-to-your-ribs soup.


  • 1 pound ​navy beans, or Great Northern beans, dried, washed, and drained
  • 1 meaty ham bone, or 2 ham hocks, smoked
  • 3 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Saltto taste
  • Freshly ground black pepperto taste


  1. Cover beans with water and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 to 2 hours.

  2. Place a colander over a bowl and drain bean liquid into it; measure and add enough water or unsalted vegetable broth to make 2 quarts; pour the liquid back into the beans and add the ham bone or ham hocks, onions, celery, and garlic.

  3. Bring the beans to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for about 2 hours, or until beans are very tender.

  4. Add the mashed potatoes, and parsley, and continue to simmer for another hour. Remove ham bone or hocks and remove the meat from the bones. Chop the meat and return it to the soup.

  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • Take the soup along to a potluck or party. Transfer the hot cooked soup to a slow cooker and set it on low for serving.

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