This soup is similar to my mothers recipe, I made some changes and added bacon... everyone loves bacon!
1.5 lb of white beans - Canellini or Great Northern
4 quarts of water
2-3 lbs of ham shanks
1 lb center cut bacon, chopped up
2 cup of diced onions
2 cup chopped celery
1 1/3 cup chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, diced
Salt and pepper
Herbes de Provence
Soak the beans in at least 3 quarts of cold water for about 2 hrs. Drain the water.
Put the ham shank pieces in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another 2 hours, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone.
Remove ham hocks from pot, and discard. Your beans should be soft at this point, if they are not you need to let them cook longer.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat and cook bacon till crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels until beans are soft. Once the beans are soft, break up the bacon into small pieces and mix into the soup. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of herbes de provence, and server with fresh chopped parsley.
Serves a lot.