Amish Bean Soup

Amish Bean Soup

1 pound navy beans
3 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch baking soda
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 medium onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds ham meat
Ham bones
Leftover ham drippings
1 cup mashed boiled potato
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup kettle, combine the beans, water, salt and baking soda. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, skim off foam, re-cover, and let stand for 2 hour. (The beans can also be soaked overnight if you prefer.)

Add the remaining ingredients except the parsley and simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Watch beans, for the cooking time will vary and the beans should not get mushy. Remove the ham bone and dice any overly large pieces of meat and return to the soup. Add the parsley just before serving. This soup freezes very well.

NOTE: In every Amish and Mennonite restaurant, you will find bean soup on the menu, though in their homes it is eaten mostly in the winter. At some tables, a cruet of vinegar is passed to sprinkle on the soup. Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment.

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