Makes 6 servings.



  1. Cover beans with water; soak overnight.
  2. Drain beans and place in large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  3. Add tomatoes with juice, celery, onion, green pepper, ham hock, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, thyme, chicken broth and water; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 4 to 5 hours or until beans are tender; stir occasionally.
  5. Add more water if necessary during simmering.
  6. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  7. Remove ham hock and cut meat off bone; return meat to beans.
  8. Puree half of soup in blender or food processor; return to pan.
  9. Season soup with salt and black pepper.
  10. Serve soup with rice, cheese, sour cream and picante sauce.
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