Created by Kchurchill5 "RIP" Forever in our Kitchen on January 10, 2012
Step 1: I soak mine over night, but soaking all day works just as well. Just fill up a big bowl with water and add the beans. Make sure that the water covers the beans by an inch, and cover - I use a kitchen towel. Drain and rinse well after they have soaked and remove any bad beans.
Step 2: Add the butter to a large stock pot and bring to medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook on medium heat, so they don't brown, for 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set to the side. You will add them back in after the ham bone has cooked.
Step 3: Add the ham bone to the pot along with the chicken and vegetable broth, water, and bay leaf. Make sure the ham bone is mostly covered in liquid - it is ok if it isn't totally submerged. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the bone from the pot; then, cut off any ham, and especially any fat or grizzle remaining. Using a spider, skim the broth as well to make sure there are no pieces of fat or grizzle. Leave the bay leaves in. A spider is just a large hand held wire mesh strainer. This isn't always necessary, it depends how well you cleaned your ham bone prior to making the soup.
Step 4: Then add the bone back in along with the beans, all the dry seasoning, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat, cover and cook 30 minutes.
Step 5: Ham and Vegetables ... Add the vegetables, diced ham, and potatoes to the soup. This may sound funny ... but I mash the baby whole potatoes right in my hand as I add them. You can use fork too, but I just like to "squish" them. It is easy, quick and works just as well. The potatoes as they cook will give the soup a nice creamy texture. You can remove the ham bone at this point. It did it's job. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables and beans are tender. You can also turn it on low and let it simmer a good hour or so. For me - the longer bean soup simmers, it's even better. During this cooking time, check to see if it needs any additional seasoning. I like lots of black pepper in my soup.
Step 6: Remove the bay leaves, add the fresh parsley; and, serve. Make sure to serve with some crusty bread and a small salad, for a wonderful dinner. This makes 8 nice size bowls. ENJOY!