(3) 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped, about 4 cups
In a dutch oven or large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium low heat. Stir occasionally, until the bacon is crispy. About 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain the grease on a paper towel lined plate. Set the bacon aside.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the dutch oven. Increase the heat to medium high. In the bacon fat, cook the chopped onion, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste, cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the flour. Stir and cook the flour for 1 minute. Slowly pour in 1-2 cups of the chicken stock while stirring the flour covered vegetables constantly. This will prevent any lumps. It will look like a thick gravy. Add the remainder of the chicken stock, the cannellini beans and the bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add the swiss chard, stir to combine it to the soup, and turn off the heat. Allow the soup to cool for about 5 minutes. Right before serving, stir in the cooked bacon bits. By adding the bacon at the end the bacon stays crispier. Taste for salt and pepper, add more if necessary. Remember, bacon is salty!