Pour the beans out on a tray, look over and remove broken beans and stones.
Rinse beans then place in a 4 quart dutch over or soup pot. Add cold water until the water level is 2 to 3 inches above the beans.
Allow beans to rehydrate by:
(1) Overnight method - cover pot and allow to sit overnight or 8 hours minimum or
(2) Place pot on stove, bring to a boil. Allow beans to boil for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover for 1 hour (60 minutes)
Making the Soup
To the drained beans, Add the ham hocks and 1 bottle of bean and 3 quarts of cold water. Place on stove and bring to a boil Continue cooking, stirring ever 15 minutes or so, until the beans and ham hocks are tender, about 1-1/2 hour.
Remove the ham hocks. Take the meat off the ham hocks, discarding the skin, fat and bones. Return the meat to the beans.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot, stir and return to a boil. Allow to simmer for 30-60 minutes until the beans are soft. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Optional - use a potato masher to mash up to half the beans for a creamer soup. Serve,
Optional - some people like to add a can of 1 pound can of whole tomatoes (crushing the tomatoes before adding) and juice the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Optional - I sometimes add a diced up potato or two.
Serve with crackers.
I sometimes add some shredded cheese in with the soup when serving and let it melt. Oh that is yummy!