You and I might call this White Bean Soup. However, every day since 1901 the menu at the U.S. Senate restaurant in Washington D.C. has listed it as U.S. Senate Soup. You will know the reason it has been on the menu so long once to try it.
Before we get started let's talk about the ham hock that you need for the soup. Have you looked for a nice meaty ham hock lately? They don't make them any more. I don't know if they started growing pigs with no hocks or what. Well you have got to have some meat in this soup. Off I go to Heavenly Ham or Honey Baked Ham and I find these beautiful big ham bones, with lots of ham left on the bone. I stock up, can't have too many ham bones. They'll cut them in half for you too.
Now let's make soup. I'm giving you a normal size recipe 6 cups, I always double it, because it doesn't get really good for about 3 days and by that time it's all gone. But do what you want.
U.S. Senate Bean Soup
About 6 cups
Soak in water to cover by at least 2 inches, overnight:
1 1/4 cups of small dried white beans, such as navy or Great Northern, rinsed and picked over
Drain and place in a soup pot, along with:
1 small meaty ham hock (1/2 of one of those big ones)
7 cups cold water
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the ham hock(leave the soup on a gentle simmer). Discard the bone, skin, and fat; dice the meat. Return it to the pot and add:
1 large onion, diced
3 medium celery ribs with leaves, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Simmer until the potato pieces are quite soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher until the soup is a bit creamy.
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
COOK'S COMMENT: Serve this with Cracklin' Corn Cakes and a green salad and dinner is ready. If possible make your soup at least 1 days ahead. It's all about flavor.