Recipe courtesy of Mike and Arlene Mcinnes
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 oz slab bacon, not too smoky, cut into four large chunks
2 onions, peeled and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 bulbs of fennel, sliced (about 4 cups)
3 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight in cold water and refrigerated
6 cups chicken stock
2 cup heavy cream
18-24 fresh sage leaves
2 cup vegetable oil
Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a stock pot over low heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes to release its flavor. Add the onions, stir, and add salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add the fennel and cook for 10 minutes.
Drain the water from the white beans and add them to the pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook beans at low boil until they are tender, usually 1 1/2 – 2 hours, depending on the beans. If the liquid level drops below the surface of the solid ingredients, add a little water. Once the beans are cooked add the cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
In a blender, in batches, puree until very smooth. If you prefer finals finer texture, press the puree through a sieve. Keep the soup warm until ready to serve, or if serving the following day, refrigerate. To reheat bring the soup to a boil be careful that it doesn’t stick to the pot. Thin with water as needed and adjust the seasoning to taste.
To make the fried sage garnish, bring a small pot of vegetable oil to a temperature of 345 degrees Fahrenheit, add 3 sage leaves per serving and fries for 30 seconds until they stop bubbling. Drain on paper towels and seasoned with salt. Serve soup in warm bowls. Top with fried sage and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil around the bowl. Serve with warm baguette.
Chefs choice for wine pairing: high acid Chardonnay