A Famous Bean Soup from the Thumb is Served Everyday in the United States Senate
The small town of Kinde, Michigan was once renowned as the “Bean Capital of the World“. Michigan white navy bean soup has been a staple for over one hundred years in the U.S. Senate dining room in the form of Senate bean soup. The simple recipe is widely known in the Great Lakes State and over the years home cooks have made all kinds of variations.
U.S. Senate Bean Soup Recipe
Senate Bean Soup is one of the Michigan Foods You Have to Try. It’s the ideal comfort food on chilly nights or a thoughtful tailgate treat. Simply made with white canned navy beans, onions, ham hocks, stock, and a few basic spices. Yum.
U.S. Senate Bean Soup Origins
While beans are still a huge agricultural focus in Michigan’s Thumb region, the mighty sugar beet has nudged the venerable white bean from the first place. However, the temperate climate of the Michigan thumb peninsula that is surrounded by Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay will mean that bean growing will remain part of the area’s agricultural economics and social culture for the foreseeable future.
History of the Famous Soup
Senate Bean Soup’s following history was found on an old menu of the U.S. Senate dining room. The true origin as to why the soup is on the menu every day is lost to time. However, it appears that Senators from Idaho and Minnesota were the ones who wanted it on the menu. It’s unknown if any Michigan senator had a role in the ingredients. The current menu of the U.S. Senate Dining Room can be found at the link below.
Senate Bean Soup Recipe
Senate Bean Soup – Always on the MenuCourse: SoupsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
A simple recipe from the US Senate Dining Room
1 Package Small Navy Beans (32 oz.)
1-quart beef stock
2-3 Smoked Ham Hocks
1 Large Yellow Onion
2 Tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
- Rinse and sort the Navy Beans in hot water. Remove any stones. Add beans to three quarts of water and one quart of beef stock in a large pot and turn heat up to allow a simmer.
- Add ham hocks to beans and water, cover. Stir occasionally. If it foams up, turn back the heat and stir. Simmer for 3 hours.
- In the last hour, remove hocks and allow them to cool enough to work with. Remove meat and discard the fat and skin. Chop meat into tiny pieces.
- Chop a large onion and sauté in butter until soft. Add to beans and chopped hock meat for the final 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper during the final 30 minutes. Salt again before serving.
- If soup boils down, add more water and stock.
- This recipe’s improved variations include adding mashed potatoes, more chopped onions, chopped celery, minced garlic, and chopped parsley.
- If navy beans are not available, substitute canned white beans and reduce cooking time. (Or they will become mush)
Visting the Senate Dining Room
The Senate Dining Room is off-limits to the general public. If you’re visiting the Capital and call on your Senator or their staff you may get invited for a late lunch. The dress code is all business (Wear a suit), and no cameras are allowed. However, the Capital Cafe is open to the public and shares many of the same menu items.