- 1 pound dried Great Northern beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups each chopped onion, celery and peeled carrots
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 10-12 cups water
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 smoked ham hocks (or ham bone with some meat left on)
- 2 tablespoons each dried parsley and dried basil
- 1/2 -1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
- Kosher salt, about 1/4 cup or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place beans in a 10-quart stock pot and pick through to discard any broken beans or rocks. Cover with 3-4 inches of water, soak overnight and drain the next day, setting beans aside (if you can’t do this, cover beans with water, bring to a full boil, turn off heat, let sit 30 minutes and then drain).
Return pot to stove and heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic; cook for 10 minutes or until just tender.
Add 10 cups water and return the beans to the pot. Strip the kale leaves from the stems and large middle vein, wash leaves and chop (discard stems). Add ham hocks, parsley, basil and chili flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and simmer, stirring soup occasionally for 11/2 hours or until beans are tender. Remove ham bone, cut off any remaining ham and add it back to the pot.
Serve with cheese sprinkled on top.