A friend who goes to our church said when he was posted in Washington, D.C., he often ate in the Senate dining room and this was his favorite dish. This soup was so popular that the senate once passed a law saying that it must be served every day in the dining room of the U.S. Senate. I don't know what the penalty was for breaking this law, because it was on the menu every day so no one ever found out.
1/4 cup oil
2 cups chopped onions (not sweet ones)
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
5 small smoked ham hocks
2 quarts water (8 cups)
1 pound navy beans that have been soaked overnight
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 Tablespoons catsup
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups of potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 cup tomato juice
Drain the beans that have soaked over night.
Combine the first 10 ingredients (the oil through the thyme) and place in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer.
Cook for 2 hours.
Add the potatoes, carrots and tomato juice.
Return to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer again until the potatoes and carrots are done, 20 to 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Remove ham hocks.
If desired, chop lean ham and return to soup.
Discard skin and bones.
Add salt and pepper to your taste.