Delicious and simple, white bean soup also goes by “Senate bean soup.” Served in the US Senate dining room since the early 20th century, Senate bean soup seems to be the never-ending special. Typically, it is composed of ham hocks, onions, navy beans, garlic, and celery. Obviously, for the vegan version, we will be omitting the ham hocks.

Unsubstantiated Senate Bean Soup Origin Story

One story claims that the cooks in the dining room were from the south and brought this dish to DC. The senators liked it so much there’s a rumor that there was a resolution to have it on the menu every day. One thing is for sure, those old dudes loved their soup.

For almost 150 years only men served in the Senate. In 1931, Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the Senate after the death of her husband, paving the way for the Kamalas of today (prosecutor, senator, vice president-elect, and home cook extraordinaire).

You Have to Be Invited to Eat at the Senate Dining Room by Your Senator

many white kidney beans in small blue cup on vintage wooden table

If you ever get an invite, you should definitely go! However, if you’re not one of the few that get that invite, don’t fret. Leave your pant suit hanging up, throw on something comfy, and make this vegan white bean soup from your own kitchen.

All in Flavor Say, Aye!

Young woman cooking in her kitchen standing near stove

Vegan white bean soup is a favorite for the colder months and is a great way to get some freshness in your diet and use those beans that have been sitting in your pantry. It’s cheap, flavorful, and you can add different spices (ground cumin or red pepper for a kick) or veggies to put your own spin on it. Carrots, zucchini, and red pepper would go nicely.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 (15.5oz) cans cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium potato (russett), peeled and diced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Drain beans, rinse and set aside.

  2. Heat the pot and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper and cook until translucent (five minutes). Avoid over-salting if your stock has a high salt content.

  3. Add garlic and stir periodically to avoid burning the ingredients. A light browning is fine, just turn down heat a little if this happens (five minutes).

  4. Drain the potatoes, then add potatoes, celery leaves, beans, and stock to the pot. Turn heat on high and bring to bowl then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until the potato is tender enough to mash (10 minutes).

  5. Using a masher (a ladle or large spoon will do in a pinch), break up potato pieces. Some beans won’t make it through this process and that’s ok. This will add a creamy texture to the soup.

  6. Simmer for 15 more minutes or until the stock has reduced to your liking.

  7. Serve with your favorite bread, crusty or corn.

Supplies

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Potato masher

Recipe Notes

Our version is a vegan-take on the soup served to your senators. But, you might ask, don’t you lose all the savory flavor if you take out the ham hocks? Short answer, no! You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to go vegan. With a little bit of love and the right ingredients, anything is possible! For the savory flavor in this recipe dice up a handful of celery leaves. Celery leaves are packed full of nutrients like potassium and vitamin C and make the soup super flavorful.

While the traditional soup calls for dry beans, we sometimes use canned beans to make the cooking process quicker. It doesn’t matter much but definitely soak your beans overnight if you plan to use dried beans. Make sure to mash the potatoes during the cooking process, this will give the soup a creamy consistency. Serve this soup with your favorite french bread or cornbread, and enjoy a filling meal in about 45 minutes.