1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dry white beans, like cannellini or Great Northern
2 quarts water
2 to 3 pounds smoked ham shanks or ham hocks
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence, or Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onions (about 1 small onion)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 to 3 ribs)
2/3 cup chopped carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Soak the dry beans: Fill a pot large enough to hold the beans with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the beans and soak for about 2 hours. Drain the water.
Simmer the ham: While the beans are soaking in step 1, put the ham shanks or ham hocks in a separate large pot and cover them with 2 quarts of water. Add the herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning. Warm on high heat until the water comes to a simmer, then lower the heat, partially cover and maintain the simmer for about an hour.
Saute the onions: Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.
Add vegetables and beans to the ham broth: Once the ham hocks or shanks have been simmering for an hour, add the drained soaked beans from step 1, the cooked onions and garlic, and the chopped celery and carrots.
Simmer the soup: Cook for another 40 minutes or so, uncovered, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone. Remove the ham bones from the soup and pull off any meat and return it to the soup. Discard the bones.
Season to taste: Add several drops of Tabasco to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.