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Catholic Recipe: Old-Fashioned Bean Soup


  • 1/4 cup shortening, (butter or olive oil -- JGM)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 Tablespoons dry chicken soup mix
  • 2 cups dried navy beans
  • 1 smoked ham bone or knuckle
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • buttered croutons
  • Details

  • Serves: 12
  • Yield: 2 quarts
  • Prep Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin:

"America's Prayer in Stone to the Mother of God" — the largest Catholic Church in the United States — is to be found in Washington, D.C. (4th Street and Michigan Avenue, N.E.) and is called the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is a fitting Shrine to the Blessed Virgin, Patroness of the United States under the title of her Immaculate Conception, an expression of gratitude and homage to God for blessings received.

Massive, majestic, and graceful, built like medieval cathedrals without any steel skeleton or framework, the Shrine is made entirely of stone, brick, tile, and concrete.

Catholics in every diocese in the United States have contributed to the erection of this Shrine through "small" donations and sacrifices. Surely every Catholic who visits Washington should make a pilgrimage to Mary's Shrine.

On the exterior are eighty-three pieces of sculpture, ten mosaics, and many inscriptions and symbols. In the upper church are the mosaic of Christ in Majesty, the beautiful marble altar and baldachin, and the Chapel of Our Lady with Vatican mosaics. The interior crypt contains the Crypt Church and Mary Altar, the Confession Chapel, and the Lourdes Chapel. In the Memorial Hall are the Bishop Shahan Chapel and Tomb, the Pius X Chapel, the Shrine Store, and the Shrine Cafeteria.

It is in the Cafeteria that those who have made the pilgrimage seek refreshment and restoration. Footsore and weary, but steeped in beauty and inspiration, they can sit down to good food and good talk about all the wonders they have seen.

Mr. Alfred McGarraghy, who manages the Shrine Cafeteria, has graciously sent us recipes for a few of the most popular dishes served there. They have been cut down to home service proportions, and we know you will enjoy them all the more because of their source.


Heat shortening; add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and garlic; simmer (but do not allow to brown) 5 minutes. Add water and soup mix; bring to boil; add beans and ham bone and knuckle. Simmer several hours or until beans are tender. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve with parsley and buttered croutons. Makes 2 quarts or 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965
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