How to Fix a Bland and Boring Bean Soup

So, the other day, I made a pot of Senate Bean Soup and accidentally used pork hocks instead of ham hocks.  (Actually, the Safeway only had pork hocks, and I bought them thinking "how much difference could there really be?  Well, it turns out, plenty.)  The resulting soup tasted under-salted and under-seasoned, and I was in a panic wondering what to do with it all.  I put it in the refrigerator and thought about it for a couple of days, and then I went out and bought a package of bacon, mushroom and swiss smoked sausage.  I cut up five links, put it in the soup and simmered for another 30 minutes.  Voila, my soup was suddenly tasty!  So, if you ever find yourself with too bland bean soup, try another smoked meat to bring up the flavor factor.  Incidentally, the following recipe, borrowed from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Soups and Stews, usually needs no such doctoring.  Just use a good piece of smoked ham bone...

U.S. Senate Bean Soup
1 lb dried navy beans
1 meaty ham bone, or 2 ham hocks
3 quarts water
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely
1 cup mashed potatoes or 1/3 cup instant potato flakes
salt to taste
1/4 t black pepper (I use more)

Soak the beans in cold water overnight, drain.

Place the beans and the hambone in a large soup kettle. Add 3 quarts water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.

Chop up all the vegetables, and put them with the ham and beans in the pot.  Add the potato.  Cook for about 1 hour more, or until the beans are tender.

Remove the hambone from the pot, remove the meat from the bone, dice it and return to the soup.  Reheat, garnish with chives or more parsley and serve.

Give the bone to your dog, after it's cooled.

This is the soup that is served in the U.S. Senate dining hall, by the way.


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