This recipe prepares a delightful Great Northern Bean chili with chicken. It brings out the best of both worlds: the meaty, rich flavors of the chicken as well as the protein-packed and fiber-infused beans. This is a great choice for families who want to spend a cold day inside enjoying a meal as a complete family.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 8


  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 – 15.8-ounce cans of Great Northern beans
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 1/4 pound chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, packed


  1. In a large pot, bring chicken broth and beans to boil.
  2. Add all seasonings, (parsley, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt). Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer.
  3. In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté about 3-5 minutes then add to the pot.
  4. In your sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Roughly chop 1/2 cup of cilantro and add to onion, garlic, and jalapeño mixture. Sauté for a few seconds then add all to pot.
  6. Let the chili simmer at least another 30 minutes, but the longer, the better. To thicken up chili a bit, use a potato masher to mash up some of the beans. Only a few mashes should work to make it thick and creamy. If the beans are softened, you could do this before adding the chicken.
  7. Add the rest of the cilantro before serving.

Slow Cooker Great Northern Beans and Ham Soup (Senate Bean Soup)

Have you ever had a ham bone in your soup? This is a great opportunity to experience the meatiness of a ham bone along with the fiber and phytochemicals of Great Northern Beans. This recipe works well for a variety of seasons, and it serves a very large portion size – with up to 8 servings, you can serve the whole family.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 6 hours and 15 minutes
  • Servings: 8


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, sorted of debris and rinsed
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large meaty ham bone (about 4 lb)


  1. Stir together chicken stock, Great Northern beans, all the seasonings, and vegetables (thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion) into a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Place ham bone in the center of mixture. Cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender – about 6 hours.
  3. Once finished cooking, remove ham bone and allow to stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bone, discarding fat, gristle, and bone. Shred the meat and stir it into the soup.

Healthy New Orleans’ Style Great Northern Beans

If you’re looking for something a little healthier, check out these New Orleans’s Style Great Northern Beans. They only take an hour to prep and cook, and the recipe produces 8 servings – perfect for your next potluck. Don’t forget to add seasonings as needed!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Servings: 8


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (to taste)


  1. Soak the beans overnight. (Another option is doing a quick-soak in a pressure cooker. Place beans in the pressure cooker with enough water to cover them by three inches. Set to high pressure and cook for 1 minute. Allow pressure to come down naturally before opening the cooker.)
  2. Drain the soaking liquid. Put the beans into the pressure cooker with 5 cups water and start heating, uncovered. (Use sauté or brown setting on electric cookers).
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop all of the vegetables by hand or in a food processor. As you chop each one, add it to the pressure cooker. Add remaining ingredients except for hot sauce. Check the water level in a cooker and add another cup if there isn’t sufficient water to cover all of the ingredients by 1 inch.
  4. Seal the pressure cooker and set the timer for 12 minutes (electric) or bring to high pressure and cook for 12 minutes once pressure is reached. Remove from heat, or turn off the electric cooker, and all pressure to release naturally.
  5. If the pressure is not down in 20 minutes, quick-release the pressure. Check beans for doneness. They should be tender, and most should be starting to fall apart. If your beans are still tough, return them to high pressure for a few minutes. If beans are tender, add hot sauce and salt to taste and cook uncovered until liquid reduces and the cooking water starts to become thick and saucy. (Use the sauté or brown function on electric cookers, on low, if possible.) Stir often to make sure they are not burning on the bottom and to incorporate any dried beans on the sides of the pot.
  6. After about 20 minutes, if the liquid still seems too watery rather than creamy, you can use an immersion blender to blend part of the beans. (Remove bay leaves first).
  7. Add additional salt to taste. Serve over warm rice and hot sauce on the table.

Beans in Ancient History

Humans and animals have long consumed beans as a staple crop in a variety of diets all around the world and in many different cultures. The word “bean” stems from West Germanic languages prior to the 1100s. These beans included broad beans and pod-based seeds.

After the Columbian expeditions and subsequent colonial developments, the word took on a new form as describing the common bean and the runner bean. The word has also been used to describe soybeans, peas, garbanzo beans, and many other types of species besides the common bean used for nutritional purposes as a staple crop.

The oldest known beans used in any diet in the world were at the Guitarrero Cave in Peru. This discovery was made around 2,000 B.C.E. Ancient people then spread the bean to a variety of other cultures, including throughout Mesoamerica.

From the New World (the Americas) came the kidney bean, black beans, pinto beans, and more. These beans added to the already-impressive Old World collection of broad beans (also known as fava beans). With additional protein sources available for cultivation, the Old World benefitted from the discovery made in the Columbian era.

Today, the world knows approximately 40,000 different bean varieties. As you might expect, only a small portion of that 40,000 number remains in active production. While many beans are produced today, the vast majority of types are stored in seed banks and genetic repositories where they are safe and sound in the event of natural disasters and other potential threats.

There have also been some health concerns with bean production and consumptions. Some raw beans contain harmful toxins that can be removed only through cooking. Red kidney beans are an example, and undercooked beans may even be more toxic than raw beans.

Another tactic used to remove toxins from beans includes the use of fermentation. In Africa and other areas, this tactic allows for inexpensive removal of toxins while also improving the digestion of the end product.

The History of the Great North Bean in Modern Cuisine

There’s a reason these small and delicately-flavored beans are so popular throughout the United States and Canada. Their smooth melt-in-your-mouth texture and relatively neutral flavor make them a fantastic addition to both sweet and savory dishes, and why they are such an ideal accompaniment to soups, stews, and casseroles.

A man named Oscar H. Will came to North Dakota and began a nursery and seed business, where he has gifted a pouch of beans that he carefully selected from and bred for 3 years, developing what he named the Great Northern bean. This incredibly nutritious legume has made its appearance in U.S. Senate bean soup, served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day. A tradition that has taken place since the early 20th century.


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