Kettle of Bean Stew

Servings: 4

1 1/2 cups [375 mL]navy beans
4 1/2 cups [1.125 L] water
1 meaty ham bone
2 cups [500 mL] small cooked ham dices
1 medium onion, peeled then sliced
1 bay leaf [optional]
1/2 teaspoon [2.5 mL] salt
Dash of pepper

Bring together beans and water into a Dutch oven; bring to a boil.
Lower heat and leave to simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat; let stand for 1 hour.
Drain beans reserving liquid; add enough water to the liquid to get 3 1/2 cups [875 mL].
Combine reserved drained bean liquid, beans, ham bone but not ham dices, onion slices, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours 15 minutes.
If using ham bone, remove and cut off any meat; return to bean stew or add cooked ham dices.
Uncover and leave to simmer for 15 minutes longer.