1½-pound smoked ham shank (have your butcher cut into three pieces)
10 ounces dried beans (use a combination of any of the following: kidney, lima, black, red, split favas, cannellini or black-eyed peas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, mashed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 leek (white portion and 1 inch of green), well-rinsed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
3 cups or about ¼ green cabbage, finely shredded
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
4-5 small Yukon gold potatoes (about ¾ pound) cut into ¼-inch dice
4-6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted)
5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste (go easy as ham and chicken broth have a lot of salt)
½ cup orzo
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Place the ham shank in a pot large enough to cover with several inches of water. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Keep adding water as needed to cook about 1 hour or until meat is falling of the bone. Remove meat and marrow from the bones, setting aside to cool.
Add dried beans to remaining cooking liquid, along with 4 cups of chicken broth. Bring to rolling boil. Reduce temperature and cook, covered, until beans are barely tender, about 1½ -2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a large low pot on the stovetop, sauté garlic, onions, leek, carrot and potato. When the onions are transparent, add the cabbage, zucchini, diced tomatoes and remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add oregano, basil, pepper and salt (if desired). Simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until veggies are al dente.
Add cooked beans and orzo. Simmer until the pasta is tender, about 10-15 minutes. The mixture should be stewlike, but add additional chicken broth as needed or desired. Right before serving, add fresh chopped parsley. Pass Parmesan cheese tableside.