Italian Bean Soup 2Did you know that every day in the United States Senate cafeteria, they serve a bean soup? The aptly named Senate Bean Soup consists of beans, ham and mashed potatoes; it originally cost .15¢ in 1940 per bowl ($3.60 today). Legend has it that if the Cold War were ever to escalate enough that the Senate would have to flee to their underground bunker, the cafeteria in the bunker would serve Senate Bean Soup.

Our favorite historical tidbit about Senate Bean Soup is this, from Wikipedia:

On September 14, 1943, rationing due to World War II left the Senate kitchen without enough navy beans to serve the soup. The Washington Times-Herald reported on its absence the following day. In a speech on the Senate floor in 1988, Bob Dole recounted the response to the crisis: “Somehow, by the next day, more beans were found and bowls of bean soup have been ladled up without interruption ever since.”

Putting a Randall Beans twist on this recipe, we made a vegetarian version with Great Northern Beans. Here’s hoping that you can find some beans to cook this with, and your soup will also be ladled up without interruption.


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Senate Great Northern Bean Soup

  • Yield: 4 - 6 servings 1x


  • 2 cups Randall Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered thyme or 1/4 teaspoon crushed leaves
  • 1/2 pound potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. Bring Randall Beans, bay leaf and thyme to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat about 45 minutes. Meanwhile scrub potatoes, cut in halves or quarters, and steam until tender. Put through ricer or mash with a fork. Beat in milk to make fluffy.
  2. Add potatoes and remaining ingredients to cooked beans, cover and cook gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and lightly mashing beans to a pulpy consistency with the back of a spoon. Adjust the seasoning of your Senate bean soup recipe and serve.