adapted from a recipe by Judy Purcell, author of Serve and Savor (a great holiday gift idea; in store now!)

2 cups dry beans (soaked)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 quarts beef broth
2 cups cooked smoked ham or turkey
1 cup lentils (unsoaked)
1 whole bay leaf
2 tsp. cumin

Dissolve 1 tsp baking soda in 4 quarts water in a large pot. Add beans and soak at room temp for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat and cook veggies until caramelized. Add garlic, cooking til fragrant. (If using a slow cooker, transfer softened vegetables to the cooker at this point and continue with remaining instructions.) Add soaked and rinsed beans, lentils, meat and bay leaf to the pot; cover with broth. Be sure liquid is 2-3 inches above ingredients to allow beans to absorb liquid. Add water, if needed. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours on the stove or 4-6 hours in a crockpot set on low. Add salt, pepper and seasonings during last hour, adjusting for flavor. Optional: Stir in 1/2 c. concentrated broth (or demi-glace sauce) for richer flavor.