Heat 12 cups water to boil, turn off heat, add beans and soak for 1 hour. Add salt pork and simmer 1 hour. Saute onion, garlic, in oil until golden and set aside.
Prepare vegetables, then add to beans with garlic, onions, salt, pepper, seasonings, tomato paste, and rice. At this time, you can also add 4 additional cups of water and continue to cook until thick.
Puree in processor at least 1/2 soup mixture, and then mix with un-pureed portion. Serve with Parmesan or Asiago cheese sprinkled on top. Note: This is better when prepared at least 1 day before serving, and then re-heated to serve. Add either Asaigo or Parmesan cheese to the top. Thanks to Jess, a fellow viewer for this wonderful recipe.