This is a recipe my family picked up while living in New Orleans. This is taken straight from our family cookbook, not sure where they got the recipe.
Wash and pick over beans. Saute bell pepper, celery, onion, garlic, and ham bone until lightly browned. Add beans and enough water to cover. Add bay leaf. Cook slowly for several hours. Add water while cooking, if needed. When beans are soft, remove 1/3 cup of beans, mash, and return to pot Add sliced sausage if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot rice.
My mom has a note that says that my dad adds other seasonings, "whatever sounds good."