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.