Here are the ingredients for my ham and bean soup:
3 carrots, sliced thin
3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
2 onions, minced
Salt pork chunks
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
salt and pepper
Ham bone, with ham pieces
1 bag White beans, dried or 3 cans
The night before you are going to make your soup, soak the beans. Put them in some water and walk away - that is all you need to do. EASY!
The next morning, slice your carrots, celery and onion. In a large stock pot, heat some oil and add the salt pork chunks. Keep the pork into large chunks because you are going to remove them from the soup before serving.
When the bacon is brown, add the carrots, celery, and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Drain the beans and add them to the carrot mixture. Add the ham, and cover it all with water. Let that simmer on the stove for several hours. The beans will soften as they cook. If you are using canned beans, do not add them until the end.
As this cooks, you will notice a nice broth. The broth will depend on how much fat and goodness is left on the bone. IF you notice that the broth isn't flavorful enough, add some chicken base. I save the scraps from my hams and throw that into the soup, discarding it before serving. Those scraps make a great broth.
Once your broth is flavorful, discard the ham bone and any ham scraps (fat). Add the bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme. If you have any leftover ham from your meal, cut them into small chunks and add to your soup. If you are using canned beans, add them now. Let the soup continue cooking for another hour or so.
Before serving, discard the salt pork chunks and bay leaves.