This is a wonderful hearty soup, great for using leftover ham from the holidays. Note 1: For a richer-tasting stock, take half of the cooked beans and puree them with the metal blade of your food processor and then add them back to the soup. Note 2: You can soak the beans overnight to speed up the preparation process and omit cooking in the first step of the directions. This soup is comfort food at its best. You will love it. Don't let the number of Steps in the Directions divert you: I always try to make my preparation directions explicit and detailed...to make preparation easier, not more difficult!