White Bean Soup

2 cups dried Great Northern beans

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)

1 large tomato, seeded, chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

8 garlic cloves, chopped

3 bacon slices, chopped

10 1/2 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup whipping cream

White truffle oil (optional)*

Place beans in heavy large pot. Add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Soak overnight. Drain beans.

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion,
leek, tomato, carrots, celery, garlic and bacon and sauté until
vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add beans, 10 1/2 cups chicken
stock, chopped thyme and rosemary. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to
medium-low; cover and simmer until beans are very tender, stirring
occasionally, about 1 hour.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to
pot. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream. Add more chicken stock by 1/4 cupfuls
to thin soup, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into 8 bowls. Lightly drizzle top of each with white truffle
oil, if desired.

*White truffle oil is available at Italian markets, specialty foods stores and some supermarkets nationwide.

Makes 8 First-Course servings.