U.S. Senate Bean Soup is traditionally made with navy beans, ham hocks and onions. It is served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day, in a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.
This hearty, economical soup grew in popularity during and between World Wars I and II. It was frequently served to the military.
Here, I have taken the original recipe and made it vegan, by replacing the ham hocks with vegan bacon, kicking up the flavor with a bit of veggie paste and liquid smoke. I’ve given it a creamier consistency by pureeing half of the beans and I finished the dish with crisp, fresh-baked croutons.
Senate Bean Soup
1 pound dried navy beans
2 quarts water
1-2 cups chopped vegan bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbsp. vegetable broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches to allow for swelling.
Drain and rinse beans then add to a large pot with water to cover plus another inch or two over medium high heat. Bring to boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface. These are impurities that should be removed.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cook the onions and bacon in olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes over medium heat. When the beans have been cooking for an hour, they should be tender, almost done.
At this point, scoop out about half of the beans and puree them in a blender until smooth. You may want to remove some of the cooking water if it looks too watery. You can set it aside and add some back in later if you need it.
Add the pureed beans back into the pot along with the bacon and onions. Add a tablespoon of vegetable broth paste and liquid smoke, if using. Stir and adjust water as necessary to make the soup the consistency you like. Simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally until flavors are blended and heated through.
Serve with crispy croutons, if desired. Enjoy!