Provided by: Chef Don Pintabona
Heat the oil in a separate saucepan, add the celery, carrots, and diced onion, and sauté over medium heat, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Stud the whole onion with the cloves. Stir the sautéed vegetables into the beans, add the whole onion and diced potatoes, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the whole onion, bay leaf, and ham hocks. Remove the meat from the ham hocks, and dice, discarding the fat and bones.
Purée half of the soup in a blender, and return the purée to the remaining soup in the pot, along with the diced ham. Reheat the soup, and season to taste with salt and pepper and hot sauce if desired. Finally finish the soup with the addition of the parsley and thyme.
Note: When soup is finished, you may add to it 1 to 2 cups of
cooked, chopped escarole, Swiss chard, or broccoli rabe for garnish if