My grandfather, who is in his nineties, has been making this soup for decades. It is nourishing and grounding. A perfect winter bowl of soup.

2 cups great northern beans
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups ham, cubed (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh thyme
10 pepper corns
6 cups filtered water
1/2 tsp salt (added after beans are fully cooked)

1. In a large bowl, soak the beans overnight in 2-3 times the water as beans.  After soaked, rinse beans well.

2.  In a large soup pot, heat oil on medium heat.  Add onions, celery, carrots and bay leaf, sauteing until the onions are translucent.
3.  Add the well rinsed beans, ham, thyme and 6 cups filtered water.  Bring to a boil, then cover, and turn down heat to a simmer cooking for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.
4.  Wait to add the salt to taste after beans are cooked as it hardens their skin prolonging cooking time if it is added sooner.
5. Garnish with fresh thyme.

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