This famous bean soup is served in the Senate’s restaurant every day. According to the U.S. Senate’s website, the soup tradition began early in the 20th-century.
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.” Wikipedia
If you visit the Senate building between the hours of 11:30am to 3:00pm, you can try the soup. The soup is also available to the general public at the Capitol Visitor Center and in the Longworth Cafeteria in Washington, D.C.
2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.