Simple Navy (great northern) bean soup - the way my Grandmother made it. She doesn't cook much these days, but I'll never forget the very simple creamy soup my grandmother made for me when life seemed too hard. She didn't measure... Of course!
Did I mention this is very simple?
1/2 bag dried great northern beans, rinsed in a strainer
1 cup of cubed ham
salt and pepper to taste
Place the rinsed beans in a large dutch oven and fill with water to about 3" from the top. Boil the beans until they pop, the outer skins will pop and they will get a little soft. It seems like it takes about 1/2 hour to get the beans to start to soften. Continue to boil them but reduce the heat a little so they don't boil over. Put the ham on a shallow baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it just starts to brown, you want the juices on the pan to look carmel-like. Pour the ham and any juice into the boiling beans and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add salt (maybe a teaspoon, I put a dime to a quarter size puddle in the palm of my hand and then taste it after a while to see if it needs more) and pepper and continue to simmer until the beans are very soft and the broth looks like a cream sauce. I've added diced carots without changing the flavor too much. I've also added canned crushed tomatoes, onions and garlic and it was good too - but it wasn't grandma's soup.
Serve with a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce (like Red Devil or Tobasco) and cornbread, of course! Fresh mellon makes a nice side dish.
I am sure this could be made in a small batch if you don't want to eat the stuff for a week.
Here's a trick with cornbread if you live alone or don't need to eat the whole thing: make it in muffin tins and freeze the corn muffins you don't need. They thaw out on the counter in an hour or less.