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This recipe comes from a room mate I had years ago. At the time I had no interest in cooking like I do now. She was an excellent cook and I had her write this recipe down for me. I've kept it all this time. It's probably been at least 13 yrs. or so. It's a classic tasting dish. I hope you enjoy it.
1 lb dried Great Northern Beans (or navy or other white bean)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tsp sugar
1 ham shank
salt and pepper to taste
If you're preparing ahead of time, rinse your beans, cover them with about 3 inches of water and soak them overnight. If you don't plan that far ahead, still rinse the beans, place them in a large pot and cover with about 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Add the rest of the ingredients and let the soup simmer, covered, about 3 hours or until the beans are tender. You may need to add more water, but I never have. Once it's finished, remove the shank and pull off all the ham and add back to the soup. The ham should fall right off of it. You can add additional ham if you like. For me, it just depends on how much actually was left on the ham bone. In this case, I bought a spiral cut ham and used the shank from that.