Senate Bean Soup

Shmoo listens to a lot of NPR. Not too long before Christmas our local NPR station, WAMU, did a story on Senate Bean Soup, which has been on the menu since around 1905 or so. There were two articles on the soup in December of 2014, one on All Things Considered that aired Dec. 26th, and the one shmoo heard on Dec. 12 on Metro Connection. The Metro Connection story also contained the recipe(s).

I liked the idea of the tradition behind the soup, and it’s simplicity, but I knew if I made it, it would contain many more ingredients. So instead of just going into the kitchen and tweaking and poking around with no idea what changes I made in the end, I started with tweaking the recipe on paper first and then using that in the kitchen. It ended up turning out really good, and I have a recipe that matches what I made.

So my version of Senate Bean Soup is below:

2 lbs dried navy beans, washed, rinsed, soaked overnight
4 quarts or so water/chicken stock
2 lbs ham diced( or leftovers from Christmas) w/ bone
3 medium onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 cups potatoes cubed (or instant mashed potatoes that make up about 3 cups)
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive/avocado/canola oil
1/2 bag of kale
cayenne, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, paprika all to taste
drippings left from cooking ham
Bourbon (generally 1 shot) to taste, optional

Add beans to stock pot with ham drippings, ham, bone, bay leaves, and enough water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to boil.
When beans are soft:
Sweat the onions, celery garlic in the butter and oil with a dash of salt, pepper, and red pepper flake.
Once onions start to caramelize, add the potatoes and sauté stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add one qt water/stock so potatoes are covered and bring to boil, then set on medium heat until potatoes are cooked.
Purée mixture blender or food processor and then add to stock pot with beans and ham.
Add kale, parsley, bourbon.
Add cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer 1 hour.
Remove bay leaf before serving.

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