1 lb dried white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini, or navy (2 cups), picked over and rinsed
1/4 lb sliced pancetta or soppresatta, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth (32 fl oz)
4 cups water
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 (3- by 2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 lb Swiss chard (preferably red or rainbow), stems discarded and leaves halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoon salt
4 pieces of thick, rustic bread, toasted (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely minced
Soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches in a bowl at room temperature at least 8 hours. Drain in a colander.
Cook pancetta in oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer pancetta with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Cook the remaining vegetables minus garlic in oil remaining in pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, stock, water, basil, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Discard bay leaf.
Stir in Swiss chard and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Cook’s Note: we didn’t have Swiss chard on hand, so we made the soup without – it was still lovely and delicious, but this is why there’s no chard in pictures.