serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer
3 strips of bacon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 can cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought low-sodium
1/4 cup kalathaki or feta cheese
1/4 cup hilopites, pilaf noodles, or spaghetti broken into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
zest of one lemon
In a small Dutch oven, cook the bacon over low heat, turning occasionally, until it is browned but not burned. Remove from the pot and drain on a plate covered with a paper towel. Set aside. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat and discard. To the bacon fat remaining in the pot, add the olive oil.
Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until it is very soft and just starting to brown. Add the beans and thyme. Stir once or twice, then add the chicken stock. Raise heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce heat to simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook for 10 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot (or remove and process in batches in a stand blender). Return the soup to the heat, and add the feta and noodles. Cook for 5 minutes or until your pasta is done (different pastas will take different amount of time to cook; the hilopites took just 3 minutes.) Crumble the bacon and add it to the soup.
This is not a very thick soup. If you'd like it thicker, raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes until the soup is the thickness you like. If you'd like it thinner, add more chicken stock, or water.
Taste the soup, then season with salt and pepper. You won't need much salt, as both the cheese and bacon are salty, but you'll want plenty of black pepper. Stir in the lemon zest, continue cooking for 1 minute, then serve.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Lydia Walshin, Soup Chick: All Things Soup, Rhode Island, October 14, 2010