White Bean with Ham Soup

This is my own recipe. It works great with split peas in place of white beans too. 

1 ham bone 
2 lbs Great Northern white beans (uncooked)
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 onion, chopped 
1 cup diced carrots 
1 cup diced celery 
2 cloves garlic, diced fine 
2 quarts chicken stock 
1bay leaf 
1 teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon pepper 
½ teaspoon dry mustard 
½ teaspoon thyme 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 In a large stock pot, prepare the beans by placing them in 6 to 8 cups water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the beans soak for 1 hour, then drain off liquid and return beans to the stock pot. 
Add the chicken stock, the ham bone, 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer. 

 While the beans are cooking, place a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add the sauted vegetables to the stock pot along with the salt, pepper and bay leaf. 

Simmer for 2 ½ hours or until beans are soft. Half way through the cooking time, add the mustard and thyme. Add more water to the soup if necessary. When beans have softened, remove the ham bone and bay leaf from the stock pot. Discard the bay leaf.

 Take half of the soup mixture and place it in a blender. Carefully puree the beans and return them to the stock pot. Remove the meat off the ham bone and chop into bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the stock pot. Add the balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with grated cheese. 

 6 to 8 servings.

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