Yields 2 quarts.

3/4 pound dried navy beans, soaked overnight

2 quarts chicken stock

1 smoked ham hock

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup onions, small dice

1/2 cup carrots, small dice

1/2 cup celery, small dice

2 Tbsp. garlic, minced

Sachet d’épices (tied in cheesecloth)

2 parsley stems

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1/4 tsp. cracked black peppercorns

1/4 tsp. thyme

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 cups potatoes, large dice

1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

Garlic croutons, for garnish (recipe follows)

Drain and rinse the beans.

Combine the beans, stock, and ham hock in a stockpot. Simmer, skimming and stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

Strain, reserving both the broth and the beans. Remove the ham hock, dice the meat, and reserve.

Heat the oil in the same stockpot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sweat until the onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic.

Add the beans, stock, sachet, and potatoes and simmer until the beans and potatoes are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove and discard the sachet.

Purée half of the soup. Recombine the purée and reserved ham with the remaining soup. Adjust the consistency with additional broth if necessary.

Return the soup to a simmer and adjust the seasoning with Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual portions at service time with croutons.

Garlic Croutons

1 garlic clove, minced    

1/4 tsp. salt    

3 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 cup bread, cubed    

Salt as needed

Ground black pepper as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sprinkle the minced garlic with the salt and mash with the side of a knife to form a paste.

Add the garlic paste to the melted butter. Toss the bread with enough of the melted butter to lightly coat all of the pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden. Stir the croutons once or twice during baking so they brown evenly.

Reserve until ready for service.