1. Put the water, ham bone, bay leaves, and salt in a large soup pot over high heat and bring water to a full boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let the bone simmer for an hour.
2. Add the beans to the ham stock and take off the heat. Allow the beans to soak in the the stock for one hour.
3. Bring the heat back to high and get the stock boiling again, then reduce the heat to low and allow the beans to simmer for 1/2 hour.
4. Saute the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil until celery is slightly tender. Add to soup and continue to cook for an additional 1/2 hour.
5. Add ham then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans and vegetables are very tender about another 10 minutes.
6. Season the soup with pepper and salt to your liking. Serve with warm corn bread.
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