1/2 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks, use some of the leaves as well)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large meaty ham bone
1 - 2 cups chopped ham meat (set-aside until soup is finished)
1 bag navy or small white beans
How to make it
Soak the beans overnight or using the quick soak method (boil beans in water for 5 minutes, shut off the heat and allow them to sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans then add to the pot with enough water to cover by 1 1/2 inches. Nestle in the ham bone, add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme and bay leaves; bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and simmer 1 hour more. Remove the bone and bay leaves. Allow the bone to cool, when cool enough to handle remove any meat.
Take half of the bean mixture and blend (use caution with hot liquids) until smooth. Coarsely chop the meat, then return to the pot along with the reserved meat and blended beans. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste; simmer for 1/2 hour more to allow the flavors to develop fully. This soup freezes well.