Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup
2 strips (2 ounces) bacon, finely diced
2 large leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2 large celery stalks, diced (roughly 1 cup)
2 dried bay leaves
1 large hefty sprig of fresh rosemary, plus more for garnishing
1 lb cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
6 cups (48 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper
good-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
If you own a stovetop-safe slow cooker insert (alternatively, you can do this in a normal saucepan or skillet and transfer it to the slow cooker): Heat the insert over medium heat.
Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crispy and most of the fat has rendered.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon, leaving the rendered fat behind, to a small bowl.
Add the sliced leeks to the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Sauté the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they are just beginning to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the diced celery, dried bay leaves, and fresh rosemary sprig, and sauté for an additional 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Transfer the insert to the slow cooker base. Add the cooked bacon, the rinsed cannellini beans, and chicken broth. Stir together. Cook on low heat for 8 hours, or until the cannellini beans are cooked, tender, and very fragrant.
Remove the dried bay leaves and any tough rosemary stalks, if present.
Transfer one large ladleful of soup (roughly 1 cup) to a small food processor blender and puree until mostly smooth.
Transfer the pureed soup back into the slow cooker with the remaining soup and stir.
Serve hot with a "glug" of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh chopped rosemary.