Copyright Thomas Saaristo  All Rights Reserved
Navy bean soup
The version of Navy bean soup I grew up with was an overcooked tasteless mess. It
took me well into my adulthood to even think about trying to make it a rich and
flavorful soup for colder autumn days

I believe I have succeeded

1 pound dry navy beans, picked for debris
4 quarts water, divided
3 to 4 lbs smoked ham hocks
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced shallot
1 cup diced hearts of celery, include fresh leaves
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
House salt
Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
Big pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large Dutch oven. Turn off the heat, add the beans,
cover and set a timer for 2 hours. After 2 hours drain the beans, discarding the
cooking liquid and set the beans aside

Meanwhile, prepare the ham stock by adding the remaining 2 quarts water to a large
stock pot. Add the ham hocks and Herbs de Provence. Heat over high heat until the
water comes to boil, then drop the heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour

While the stock is simmering, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat for 2
minutes. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and the celery and a
pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes and stir to gloss. Cook, stirring occasionally
until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30

Add the drained beans to the ham stock along with the sauteed onions, celery and
garlic and the carrots. Season lightly with salt and heavily with freshly ground black
pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the
meat is pulling away from the hocks. Remove the hocks from the soup and carefully
pull off any meat. Add the meat to the soup and discard the bones

Mount the soup with cream and butter and warm through. Taste for salt and pepper
and serve immediately