Today is a perfect day to make a big pot of white bean and ham soup. I acquired four gorgeous smoked ham shanks at the butcher's; and am now quick soaking three pounds of small white beans. I expect to have a triple batch of soup ready by 6pmish - with a pan of cornbread to accompany it. Recipe: - 1 lb. dried small white beans (soak over night or quick soak) - 1.5 - 2lbs ham shank - 1 onion - 2 carrots - 2 ribs of celery - bay leaf - parsley - herbes de provence - salt - pepper - tabasco sauce - 8 cups of water -Cook ham shanks in 8 cups of water for an hour to an hour an a half. Add beans, diced vegetables and herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Remove ham shanks. Debone and shred meat. Add meat back to the pot. Heat, serve. Garnish with a dash of tabasco sauce for a spicier version. Some people put some of the soup through a food mill to make a thicker broth. I prefer to leave out that step.