Country-Style Three-Bean Soup

1/2 pound northern beans
1/2 pound red kidney beans
1/2 pound pinto beans
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 pounds smoked pork hocks
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
3/4 pound Polska Kielbasa, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Rinse and sort beans, removing any small stones, shriveled beans and dirt. In a large soup pot, heat beans and 8 cups of water to boiling. Boil 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans in colander and rinse with cold water.

Return soup pot to heat. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are tender. Add pork hocks and 8 cups of water to the pot. Add bay leaves and peppercorns. I like to put the bay leaves and peppercorns in a tea ball before adding to the pot. This makes removal very easy. Heat to boiling. Return rinsed and drained beans to soup pot.

Simmer soup for 45 minutes. Remove about 2 cups of soup and place in a shallow bowl. Mash the soup with a potato masher. You could also put the 2 cups of soup in the blender and puree. Return mashed soup to pot. This gives the soup a thicker texture.

Add sliced sausage. Cook 20 minutes more.

At this point, soup can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

At serving time, heat soup until piping hot. Remove bay leaves, peppercorns and pork hocks. Cool the hocks slightly. Trim some of the meat from the hocks and add to soup. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

- Recipe courtesy of Sue Doeden