Pressure Cooker Senate Bean Soup
Bean soup is on the menu in the U.S. Senate’s restaurant every day.
No one is exactly sure why this tradition started, but since 1903, U.S. Senate bean soup has been served in the Senate dining room every day – the only mandatory recipe on the menu.
The only exception, according to Senator Elizabeth Dole, as told to her by her husband, Bob Dole, was in 1943, during World War II rationing. It only happened for one day, and then bean soup was back on the menu.
Senate bean soup a simple recipe – navy beans, ham hocks (or ham and a hambone), onions sauteed in butter, and salt and pepper. “The Senators like their soup straightforward” said Don Perez, the Senate dining room’s executive chef back in 2003.
I’m taking a couple of liberties with the soup – Chef Perez admitted he adds a little garlic – and a recipe attributed to Senator Fred Dubois in 1903 includes mashed potatoes and parsley. I’m skipping the potatoes, but the parsley adds a splash of color that I can’t pass up.
So, why bean soup? Because I will have a ham bone and leftover ham from Easter dinner. (I’m notorious with my in-laws for taking bones home with me from family dinners.) This recipe was invented to use up leftover ham. (Well, I don’t know that for sure…but it looks like what the Senate’s chef would do the day after serving ham.) That said…the pictures have a (huge) smoked ham hock from my butcher. Don’t be afraid to use leftover ham; this recipe was made for it.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Senate Bean Soup
Adapted from: Senate Bean Soup (via Senate.gov)
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot Electric PC)
- I tried quick-soaking the beans with and without salt for this recipe – the results were pretty close. The salted quick soak beans were a hint sweeter; unsalted were a hint “beanier” in flavor. I don’t think the salt in the quick soaking is mandatory, but I liked the results.
- Forgot to soak? Sort and rinse the beans, then put them in the pressure cooker and increase the cooking time to 25 minutes at high pressure in a stovetop PC, 30 minutes in an electric PC. Let the pressure come down naturally.
- Please, do not forget to season to taste at the end! Soup tastes bland and flat without added salt. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of salt – you’re still adding a lot less salt than you’d get in canned beans.
- Senate Bean Soup Ladles Up Tradition for 100 Years Jennifer Frey, Washington Post (via OrlandoSentinel.com)
- Senate Bean Soup (via Senate.gov)
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Enjoyed this post? Want to help out DadCooksDinner? Subscribe to DadCooksDinner via eMail or RSS reader, recommend DadCooksDinner to your friends, buy something from Amazon.com through the links on this site, or donate through my tip jar. Thank you.