1 pound great northern or navy beans 8 cups water 1 pinch baking soda 2 pounds country-style spareribs, cut in serving-size pieces 1 cup chopped onion 1 carrot, finely chopped 8 whole cloves 2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/8 red pepper flakes 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley chopped onions for garnish cider vinegar
Place the beans and water in a very large kettle. Soak overnight.
Add the baking soda to the beans, bring to a boil over high heat, and skim off the foam. Add the remaining ingredients except the parsley, chopped onion, and cider vinegar and bring again to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for 45 minutes longer, or until the beans are tender and the mixture is very thick. (Cooking time will vary since the beans vary in moisture content and age).
Add the parsley to the beans. Ladle into soup bowl, and serve with chopped onions and a little pitcher of vinegar.