15-BEAN SOUP

Recipe courtesy of The Bear Cupboard (http://bearcupboard.blogspot.com)
Source:  N. K. Hurst Co. (www.hambeens.com)
Rating:  9 out of 10 
INGREDIENTS:  1 lb. of ham, ham hocks, or smoked sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 (15 oz.) can stewed or diced tomatoes (I used diced)
1 tsp. chili powder (or less if you are spice adverse)
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced 
 
Rinse and pick over beans, discarding any that are bad.  Place beans in a large pot; cover with 2 quarts of cold water.  Allow beans to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.  After soaking, drain water; add 2 quarts of fresh, cold water along with meat.  (If using salt pork, render it in a Dutch oven or large pot for at least 15 minutes before adding beans and water.)  Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2-1/2 hours.  (2 hours was sufficient for me, as the largest beans were soft by then.)   

Add onion, tomatoes, chili powder, lemon and garlic.  (If adding smoked sausage or chopped ham, this is when I would add it.)  Simmer for another 30 minutes.  Add contents of ham packet 1-2 minutes before cooking is completed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  (I only used about 1/3 of ham packet and no salt/pepper was needed, as the meat added plenty of flavor.)   

Perfect accompaniment:  Cornbread or corn muffins. 
Also, consider adding some chopped collards or other greens to the soup during the last half hour.  Yield:  14-16 servings