Image courtesy:

Image courtesy:


  • 6 1/4 cups dry great Northern beans
  • 3/4 pound smoked ham shank
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons ham base
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


Put beans in a large bowl, add water to cover and soak overnight. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ham shank and 4 cups water and simmer for about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bone and shred meat. Set bone and meat aside for later. (Note: reserve the stock, if desired, to replace the ham base.)

Drain the beans. In an 8 quart pot over high heat, combine the beans, 12 cups fresh water and ham base. (Note: At this point, if desired, measure reserved stock from step 1, add water to total 12 cups liquid, and use this mixture to eliminate the ham base.) Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, ham, ham bone and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender. Add additional water as needed. (Note: Soup should be thick enough to heavily coat a spoon.)