Smoky Red Bean Soup
- 1 1/2 cups any dried red beans, rinsed and picked over
- 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks or 1 ham bone
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium to large carrot, chopped
- 1 medium celery stalk, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or a pinch dried
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the beans and 8 cups water in a stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Add the ham, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, and thyme.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so the mixture bubbles but steadily.
- Cook, stirring once in a while, 60 to 90 minutes.
- Add more water as needed, 1/2 cup at a time.
- Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, stir, and turn off the heat.
- Remove the hocks from the pot.
- Pull the meat from the bone, chop it, and return it to the soup.
- Bring the soup to a boil, stirring frequently and adding more water if necessary.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.