U.S. Senate Bean Soup Recipe
U.S. Senate Bean Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home
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U.S. Senate Bean Soup Recipe

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4.5 14 17
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Chock-full of ham, beans and celery, this hearty soup makes a wonderful meal at any time of year. Freeze the bone from a holiday ham until you're ready to make soup. Plus, once prepared, it freezes well for a great make-ahead supper! —Rosemarie Forcum White Stone, Virginia
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + standing Cook: 3-3/4 hours + cooling
MAKES:8-10 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + standing Cook: 3-3/4 hours + cooling
MAKES: 8-10 servings


  • 1 pound dried great northern beans
  • 1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes or 1/3 cup instant potato flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Minced parsley or chives

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 229 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 83mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 10g fiber), 14g protein.


  1. Rinse and sort beans. Place beans in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1 to 4 hours or until beans are softened.
  2. Drain and rinse, discarding liquid. In a large Dutch oven or soup kettle, place the beans, ham bone or hocks and 3 quarts water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Skim fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic, celery, parsley, potatoes, salt and pepper; simmer 1 hour longer.
  4. Set aside ham bones until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. Cut meat into bite-size pieces and return to Dutch oven. Heat through. Sprinkle with parsley or chives. Yield: 8-10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).
Originally published as U.S. Senate Bean Soup in Taste of Home April/May 1993, p31

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Joyce User ID: 9009077 258916
Reviewed Dec. 31, 2016

"I have been eating this soup for well over 60 years, as this is how my mom made it, and how I make it, with a few changes. The actual Senate version uses navy beans, and for 1 lb of beans, we used 1 large or 2 medium onions and a bit more garlic. It says salt to taste, which varies depending on the saltiness of the ham, but be sure to add enough pepper, at least 1/4 tsp or more (I add at least 1/2 tsp or more), again, depending on the ham and what glaze, if any, was used. If I don't have a ham bone, I use 2 large ham hocks or 3 medium ones. Sometimes I just make ham stock from the bones/hocks and can or freeze that, so I can make this soup quickly using 4 cans of beans (drained/rinsed) and go from there. To make the stock, I just cover the bones with about 4 qts of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 4 hours. Then I pull off what meat I can, strain the stock, and can or freeze. This stock is also good in pea soup."

DeGramma User ID: 1113171 8337
Reviewed Nov. 15, 2014

"Have been making this very delicious soup for years, only difference I add 2 diced carrots and one diced potato & add 1/3 cup potato flakes in the last hour. (Also can use 1 cup left over mashed potatoes). Freezes well and makes about 3 to 4 quarts."

tammyc1023 User ID: 7234543 4245
Reviewed Jan. 10, 2014

"We've made this many times, and it goes well with a nice salad and muffins or rolls."

Miata2 User ID: 191395 7313
Reviewed Dec. 26, 2013

"I've made this for years. I add diced potatoes and carrots in addition to the onions and celery. This is a wonderful comfort food soup. Homemade bread, something for dessert and you have a fabulous meal."

skywaitress User ID: 5434571 2787
Reviewed Apr. 1, 2013

"I use chicken stock for the water, add carrots, and use 5 cans of beans! delicious! have made this so many times!"

Antonia88 User ID: 6369275 6013
Reviewed Jan. 31, 2012

"A wonderful bean soup recipe. Made it the other day and will be a family favorite now. Followed the recipe as given, except left out the parsley. Thank you T of H!"

KathKirk User ID: 6426900 4375
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2011

"We have used this recipe for years. It is our New Year's Day tradition...with a pan of cornbread.

We use 1 cup each of diced onion, carrots & celery. Sometimes we use diced ham for a less fat content."

SWEETPEA123 User ID: 1949784 8335
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2011

"SweetPea here again-to be more specific-I used two 48 oz.jars of Randall Deluxe Great Northern Beans, a 5 quart crockpot, and I did NOT use the potatoes or flakes-adding the 2 cups of chicken broth didn't dilute it much-it was still thick and wonderfully filling-not to mention it makes the house smell wonderful!"

SWEETPEA123 User ID: 1949784 6235
Reviewed Sep. 26, 2011

"This was the best bean soup I had ever tasted, but let me in on how I altered it! First, I used two large jars of Great Northern Beans that were already prepared and poured them over a smoked ham roast, juice and all, in a huge crockpot. Then I added some celery and onions that I had frozen. Added some garlic powder and brown sugar on top. Last minute extra guests caused me to add 2 cups of chicken broth towards the end to make it go further, but they didn't show...but it didn't matter-there wasn't any leftover! Served with three loaves of French bread-this all served five adults and two children with two bowls a piece. Definitely a "make again"! Cooked on low for over 7 hours and then turned it to Keep Warm until time for dinner."

Mary117 User ID: 4200080 5092
Reviewed Mar. 16, 2011

"I double the beans and skipped cooking the ham with bone to putting leftover ham (cut up) in the soup. I freeze some individual servings to take for my lunch to work. It reminds me of my Father's boiled dinner which seemed like soup with huge chunks."

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