White Bean-Sundried Tomato-Pancetta Soup

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Soup:

1 lb. dried white beans

12 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. diced pancetta

1 cup diced celery

1 cup peeled and diced carrots

2 onions, diced

1 bulb of fennel, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup white wine

1 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and julienned

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1 Parmesan cheese rind

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

Caramelized Fennel:

1 tsp. olive oil

1 onion julienned

1 fennel bulb

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup white wine

salt and pepper, to taste

Place beans in a bowl of water and soak for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse.

In a large soup pot, combine the beans, chicken stock and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil; then to simmer until beans are tender. Add more stock if needed.

Meanwhile, cook caramelized fennel. In a small pot heat the olive oil and add the onions and fennel. Cook until browned and caramelized. Stir in brown sugar, garlic and white wine. Cook on low until fennel and onions are sweet and tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

In another pot, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic. Saute until fragrant and onions are tender. Stir in the white wine and the tomatoes. Bring to boil and reduce the liquid by half. Set aside.

When beans are cooked tender, add the vegetable mixture, thyme and Parmesan rind; simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in rice wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve soup in bowls garnished with caramelized fennel.

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