White Bean and Chicken Soup with Bacon

From Julie Sampson

Serves 14

Ingredients

1 pound white beans (I used cannellini)
6 cups water
bay leaf

2 carrots
2 celery ribs
1 large onion
4 or 5 strips of bacon (I used uncured thick-cut)
1 tablespoon dried or a few sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried or 1 sprig fresh rosemary
a couple of bay leaves
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock (4 for soup, 2 for poaching)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Soak beans overnight or bring beans, water, and bay leaf to a boil, turn off, and cover for an hour. Then simmer beans until tender, about an hour and a half. Add salt.

Dice carrots, celery ribs, and onion. Chop bacon. Render bacon fat in a stock pot where you’ll cook the soup. Once bacon is brown, remove and set aside. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat otherwise the soup will be greasy. Add carrot, celery, and onion, plus dry herbs (if using) and a bay leaf. Cook until onion is soft and translucent.

Add diced tomatoes, and saute for a few minutes, until the tomatoes start breaking down. Add 4 cups chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Add beans and fresh herbs (if using; smash in your palm to release oils before adding) and put the pot in the fridge for a day.

The next day poach chicken thighs in 2 cups of chicken stock. This takes about 10 -15 minutes. Once cooked, remove from stock and shred the meat. Set aside the poaching liquid for your soup if it’s too thick.

Go get your stock pot with the soup and using an immersion blender whiz the soup and beans a little. Add the chicken meat and bring the whole thing back to a boil. You can add the bacon (it gets soft) or use it as a garnish before serving. Check the seasonings, remove bay leaves and herbs and serve.

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