Ham and Bean Soup

Ingredients:

• 8 cups water
• 1 pound Great Northern beans or navy beans
• 2 cups cubed ham
• 1 ham bone or ham hock, optional
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 rib celery, chopped or sliced thinly
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

Directions:

Bring water and beans to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour.
Stir in ham, ham bone or hock, pepper, bay leaf, carrot and celery. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender (skim foam from top), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If soup is too thick, add a little water.
Remove ham bone or ham hock (if used) and trim meat from bone. Return meat to soup with tomato sauce and salt; simmer for about 15 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf.
Ham and bean soup serves 6.

Notes:

To add another level of flavor, smoke the ham before using.