Sunday, January 27, 2013

[Senate] Bean Soup & Cornbread

One of the best things about growing up in Maryland was the proximity to Washington, D.C. and having class trips to the Smithsonian, National Art Gallery, the Memorials, the White House, the Capitol...well I could go on and on.  Being exposed to the richness of history in one city gave me a sense of pride and I never tired of the yearly field trips starting as early as 1st grade.
(photo from the internet)
Today, with rain and a chill in the air, I was trying to decide what to make for our dinner when the thought of Senate Bean Soup came into my head.  I was in 6th grade when we visited the Capitol Building and the National Art Museum and had planned ahead of time to save up some babysitting money to be able to have lunch in the Senate's restaurant with my friends.  While they were placing hot meals on their trays, I opted for a bowl of bean soup with a square of cornbread.  Looking back, I know I was drawn to the familiar; my mother made the best bean soup and even though it was probably cost-effective for a large family, I saw it as a very special meal when she made her recipe. 

Over the last 25 years, since switching my diet to vegetarian, I've had to make my own version of my mother's soup, eliminating the ham hocks that she cooked (until the meat fell off the bone) with the navy beans.  Imitating that flavor that has been made since 1903 when Senator Knute Nelson from Minnesota requested the soup to be a part of the lunch meal at the restaurant in the Capitol Building, was no easy feat.  However, I think I've come up with a pretty good substitution and I can still have my memories.

Navy Bean Soup (with kale)
2 cups dry navy beans
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 - 2 stalks of celery, diced
2 T olive oil
6 cups water + 3 "Not-Chick'n" bouillon cubes (or substitute 6 cups of vegetable broth)
6 to 8 drops of Liquid Smoke
salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch of fresh kale, washed thoroughly, remove the center stem and chopped (optional)

Wash and pick over the dry navy beans, removing any "stones" or discolored beans.  Place in a medium sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring beans to a boil, then place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for one to two hours.  

Prepare veggies.  Place a soup pan or Dutch-oven, over medium heat and after a minute, add the olive oil, then the veggies and saute until soft.  Drain the beans and add to the veggie mixture.  

Add the water and bouillon (or vegetable broth) and Liquid Smoke and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid.  Continue to cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.  About 15 to 20 minutes before the beans are done, add the kale, if using.

While soup is cooking, make up your favorite cornbread.  I've included my easy recipe because I associate this soup with cornbread:-D

1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Spray a 6-cup mini bundt pan with baking spray.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix the egg, milk, melted butter and sour cream, then, add it to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
 Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 2 T butter and 2 T honey in a small saucepan.  After 18 minutes, remove pan and brush this mixture onto the tops of the cornbread bundt pan.
Return to the oven and bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto a parchment-line rack.
Soup was perfect for this weather.  What comfort food did you make today with the cold weather outside?  Enjoy!





  1. oh bean soup and cornbread! i'm copying these recipes down right now susan, i love this meal, soup is my favorite, thank you! such fun memories you have of living near our nations capitol!

  2. I like to make split pea soup but I do use the ham bone. I do use half water and half vetable stock to the soup. A bowl of split pea soup and chunk of crusty bread. yum!
    I think I will try your cornbread recipe. thanks
    stamping sue

  3. Yesterday I made cockaleekie soup..mmmmm full of veggy goodness,perfect for taking the chill off.
    Jane x

  4. I love bean soup. My Mom use to make it all the time and yes with cornbread!! I love pinto beans, my Grandma always had them and they were the best comfort food ever!

  5. I love the idea of a vegetarian version AND the baby Bundt cake corn breads. :) I take my lunch to work everyday, and those little Bundts would "travel" nicely. We have very similar memories of D.C. as kids. When we move to CA when I was 12, I so missed Smithsonian and Art Gallery visits. Just not the same here...But, I was very fortunate to have been there as a kid. Have a wonderful week, my dear friend. Lv, me

  6. It sure does look pretty. The corn bread looks terrific, too.

  7. That sounds wonderful! I also love the way that simmering a pot of soup humidifies and warms up the house and makes it smell good too!

  8. Bean soup and cornbread...a perfect match!

  9. Susan, your Senate bean soup looks like a winner. I am not vegetarian, but could be easily. Having said that, I have a pot of beef vegetable soup on the stove bubbling away. I think I'll try your cornbread to go with it. Love your memories of Washington,DC.--I never take for granted our beautiful capitol and love to visit all the wonderful sites. xoxo ♥

  10. I love your new soup bowls!! And thanking you in advance, I can't wait for mine to come! And I really like the cornbread baked in the mini bundt pans---so much more interesting than an 8" square pan! Mom's bean soup was the best but I am anxious to try your recipe with the liquid smoke. Hugs, Barb

    PS The deep freeze is over for the time being---we had ice this morning but tomorrow is supposed to be in the 60's!! Go figure!

  11. I'm a true southerner and love good cornbread. I never make it without buttermilk but with the sour cream, I'm sure that makes the difference. And I love the pan you made these in...yum yum! When it's cold, we like chili are beef stew! Hugs!

  12. Hi Susan. Just learned you were a vegetarian. See? Learn something new every day. Your bean soup looked good.

    Susan, thank you so much for your visits and comments on my blog. How I love that you stop by! Susan

  13. I had no clue you were a vegetarian. Must have slipped my mind during my apron-wearing days. I'm making split pea soup today, Cuban style. We add everything in the fridge. :)
    LOVE using the bundt pan for cornbread. Great idea.
    K, you cook and I'll make recipe tags for presentation. What a team, huh. :)
    Have a great day, Susan.

  14. Susan, I received your beautiful gift today. I love everything and can not wait to try the products. I tried to email you a private note and for some reason I could not get it to send.
    All the products you sent me are just wonderful However you sent me way more than just things in a basket.
    Your thoughts and support and prayers for me mean more than you will ever know sweet friend!! Thank you for being with me on this journey!

  15. Sounds like a great soup and I'd never thought of making cornbread in the mini bundt pan! Great idea.