1 pound navy or small white beans
Meaty ham bone or ham hock
3 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes OR 1 raw potato, peeled and sliced
several stalks of celery, including leaves*
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer ham bone or hock in 3 quarts of water for 2-3 hours on top of the stove, or all day or all night in the Crockpot. Remove bone and meat and refrigerate until fat hardens on top of the broth.
Cover dry beans with water and soak overnight OR do a quick soak about an hour before you start the soup.
Drain beans and discard soaking water. Remove hardened fat from broth and discard. Remove ham from bone and chop finely, discarding all fat and gristle.
Chop onion and celery. (*This is a good way to use up the yellow center stalks). In a large stock pot or Crockpot, combine beans, broth, ham and all remaining ingredients EXCEPT salt and pepper. Simmer until beans are tender--about 2 hours on top of the stove or most of the day in the Crockpot. Season with salt and pepper to taste (if ham was salty, may not need any salt).
Note: For a very good veggie version, just use 3 quarts water and skip the ham and broth.