Once upon a time, I worked in Washington, D.C.. The cherry blossoms welcomed me my first week on the job. I remember sitting on a bench on the Mall taking in their beauty, marveling at my good fortune of being a "resident" now and shivering a bit in the still cool spring air.
My job frequently took me to "The Hill" for the Senate and House Armed Services and Appropriation Committee hearings. It was there that I discovered, and dined on, Senate Bean Soup. When I came across a package of dried navy beans in the pantry clean out, I promised to make myself a bowl before it became too warm to actually enjoy. This week, with much warmer temperatures but rain in the forecast every day, seemed the time to put on the soup pot.
There are conflicting (no surprise here) reports of how this soup came to be. Some credit Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho for introducing it in the early 20th century. His version has potatoes of course! Others credit Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota for introducing it around 1903. The soup of my memory does not contain potatoes and neither does mine. I'm not sure how close it is to the senate version, but it is a very good bowl full.
Sort of Senate Bean Soup from memory
1 pound of dried navy beans, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
12 cups of ham bone stock, chicken stock or water
Cooked diced ham (if desired)
1. Look over the beans carefully before the overnight soaking.
2. In a large pot, saute the onion and celery in a Tbsp of vegetable oil until translucent, about three minutes.
3. Drain the beans, add them to the pot and add the broth or water.
4. Bring to a steady simmer, partially cover the pot with a lid and cook from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally and checking for doneness. The beans should maintain their form and have a creamy consistency.
5. Add the ham to heat through.
NOTE: Instead of halving the recipe for us, I freeze a portion for a quick meal in the future.