6 Bean Soup

To soak beans: For each pound of dry beans, any variety, add 10 cups hot water. Up to 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of beans may be added to help the beans absorb water more evenly. Heat to boiling, let boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for at least one hour, but preferably four hours or more. The longer soaking time is recommended to allow a greater amount of sugars to dissolve, thus helping the beans to be more easily digested. Always discard the soak water. To maintain color integrity, soak beans separately. Drain beans. Cook onion, celery, carrot, green pepper, parsley and garlic in butter until soft. Combine cooked vegetables with soup mix, 2 litre water, bay leaf, fines herbes and soaked beans. Simmer, covered, about 1 hour to desired tenderness. Add tomato. Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese. Note: 1 cup canned tomatoes may be used in place of the fresh tomatoes.