Have you ever realized you have a tradition and you didn't know it? This morning Brian called his mother to ask for the recipe for Ham & Bean Soup. We make it at least once a year - usually around the holidays because that's when we have a ham bone. The call to Brian's Mom is part of our ritual. First we look for the hand written recipe in the pockets of all my cookbook covers and in the random accordion files of recipes I've collected. (We found some coupons from 1999 in one file folder. Just missed those deals...) No matter where you're from, this soup makes you feel like you've gone home. Ahhhhh! And it's so simple.
1 lb. navy beans
6 peppercorns (if you're Brian, put in 7 and forget you did - fun for the whole family!)
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 ham bone (and any leftover meat still on the bone)
Soak beans 6 to 8 hours in two quarts of cold water.
Bring beans to a boil in two quarts of water. Boil one minute. Remove from heat and let the beans sit in the water for 45 minutes. (Whichever method you choose, do not drain the beans. DO NOT SEEK THE TREASURE. Hahahaha!)
Add bay leaf, peppercorns, and ham bone to beans and simmer on low heat, covered, for three and a half hours. Remove ham bone(s), bay leaf, and peppercorns. Add onion and any meat from the ham bone. Simmer on low, covered, for another half hour.