This is a wonderful soup for when you are cleaning out the pantry and finding a number on kinds of beans tucked away in jars and bags. Substitute freely. one varety more or less will make little difference in the blended taste. This is a large recipe that will feed a Boy Scout patrol or a young football team . I make this and freeze it in smaller servings to have on cold nights for a fast dinner.
1In a medium ( 4 quart ) saucepan cover ham hocks and soup bones with water 2 inches above the meat, abour ( 10 cups ) Bring the water to a boil, partially cover with lid , reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 2 1/2 hours .Skim off the brown film as it collects on the surface.
2Soak beans before cooking- the beans may be quick soaked by covering them with water and bringing to a boil for 2 minutes. Set aside and allow to soak for one hour. Drain off and discard the water. Blanching beans for 2 minutes and soaking for one hour is equivalent of 6 to 8 hours of soaking.
3Drain off beans, while the meat is cooking, place the beans in another saucepan, add water to cover plus 2-3 inches, about 4-quarts altogether. Bring to a boil then reduice heat and simmer for about one hour or until the beans are al dente ( not mushy ). Drain the beans through a colander into a bowl . Reserve the liquid in the event it is needed to thin the soup.
4In a large skillet heat the butter to foaming, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cover the skillet and cook but do not brown until translycent, about 8 minutes. Put aside for the moment.
5At the same time cut the sausage into diagonal 1/4 inch slices and put into the skillet. Cook until the fat is released and the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Lift out the pieces with a slotted spoon. Discard the fat from the pan. When the ham hocks are cooked, take the saucepan off the heat. Lift out the ham and cut off the thin strip of meat beneath the layer of fat. Cut into bite-size pieces and return to saucepan. Discard fat and bones, including the veal bones.
6When the beans are cooked, drain and pour them into the ham/veal stock. Reserve the water in which they have been cooked in the event it is needed later. Add the vegetables, including the tomatoes. Add the sausage. slices.
7Simmer the completed soup over medium low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Salt cautiously, if at all, because the ham will have made its contribution. Add black pepper to taste.
8This is a great dish to bring to the table, ladle into heated bowls, serve a green salad, and plenty of country bread. ( add lots of butter).