Rinse beans well under cold running water, then pour into a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight.
Drain beans in a colander. Return to pot with ham bone, 8 cups water, onion and seasonings. Bring to a boil. When boiling, immediately lower heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, gently until beans are very tender, about 4 hours. Add more water if needed.
Remove and discard ham bone. If the beans look too much like stew, add 1-2 cups more water. When beans are very tender remove about a cupful of the beans and mash by hand or put in food processor or blender and mash well with a little of the bean liquid. Return mashed beans to pot, taste for seasoning, and serve steaming hot over freshly cooked white rice.
Contributor: pat ciesla
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