Drain beans, rinse. Place in a large pot and add 12 cups of stock, bay leaf, and thyme, along with the ham bone. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 – 40 minutes, or until beans are just beginning to soften before adding the sauteed vegetable mixture.
While the beans are simmering, in a large saute pan, fry bacon until crisp, remove and reserve for garnish. There should be about 3 tablespoons of drippings, if not add a little oil or butter. Heat to medium-high heat and add the celery, onion, and carrots. Saute until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Add in the garlic, and parsley and continue to cook for a minute or two longer, stirring as needed, until garlic is fragrant. Add mixture to the pot with the beans. Add the tamari and oregano and continue to simmer another hour or so until the beans are fully tender and ham is softened.
Meanwhile, in another pan, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash potatoes with 1/2 cup milk and set aside.
Remove about one cup of beans and the bone, along with any chunks of meat. (Most of the carrots will be floating on the top. They can make the soup look orange when mashed so try to avoid them.) Mash the beans and return to the pot along with the mashed potato mixture. Shred the chunks of ham and any ham remaining on the bone. Return the ham to the pot.
Simmer gently about 10 more minutes to thicken the soup. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper as desired. Crumble the reserved bacon and sprinkle over the individual servings. Garnish with parsley, chives or sliced green onion, as desired.
Nutrition: Per Serving (about 2 cups): 196 Calories; 2g Fat (11.9% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 230mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat.
Keywords: Fabulous Food Posts and tagged Bacon, Bargain Meal of the Week, Beans, Brine, Dried Beans, Family Recipe, Freezes Well, Ham, leftover ham, Leftovers, Navy Bean Soup with Bacon, planned leftovers, Soup