- 1 pound Great Northern beans—picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight in cold water
- 12 cups Chicken Stock or 6 cups canned low-sodium broth mixed with 6 cups water
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
- Bouquet garni made with 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, 2 fresh thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
- 2 meaty smoked ham hocks
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Drain the beans and rinse them thoroughly. Put the beans in a large pot, add the Chicken Stock, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bouquet garni and ham hocks and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover partially and simmer over moderate heat until the beans are tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Transfer the ham hocks to a plate; discard the bouquet garni.
- Pass the beans through a food mill and return the puree to the soup pot. Season with salt and pepper. Pull all the meat from the ham hocks and shred it into bite-size pieces; add the meat to the soup.
- Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season well and stir in the parsley just before serving.
Make AheadThe soup can be refrigerated for several days. Reheat the soup gently; add a little water if it seems too thick.