1 pound dry navy beans
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham shank*
6 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 medium (1/2 cup) onion, chopped
1 rib (1/2 cup) celery, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 medium (1 cup) carrots, chopped
1 small (1/2 cup) red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 (9-ounce) loaf French baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, if desired**
Place beans into 5- to 6-quart heavy saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Cook over high heat until water comes to a boil. Boil 3 minutes; remove from heat. Cover; let beans soak 1 hour. Rinse; drain.
Return beans to saucepan. Add ham shank, water, chicken broth, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Cook over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook 85-90 minutes or until beans are tender.
Remove ham shanks with tongs. Cool slightly. Cut meat from bone; discard bone, fat and skin.
Chop meat; add back to soup. Add carrots, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook until carrots are tender.
Heat oven to 400°F.
Brush both sides of baguette slices with melted butter. Place bread slices onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 3-5 minutes or until bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Turn slices over; sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.
Serve toasted bread slices with soup.
*Substitute ham bone.
**Substitute 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- To remove excess fat from soup, allow soup to cool in refrigerator. Skim off hardened fat.
- Beans can be soaked overnight. Place dry beans in pan; cover with water 2 inches above beans. Let stand 8 hours. Rinse and drain.