- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 slices bacon or pancetta
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, split in half and rinsed very well under running water, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup dried Great Northern beans, picked over and soaked overnight or 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 x 2 inches
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 1/4 cups cubed zucchini
- 2 medium new potatoes, scrubbed and cubed (about 6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups cubed)
- 1 teaspoon Baby Bam
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry until soft, using a fork or tongs to turn, about 2 minutes.
- Add the leek and onion, and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, celery, soaked beans, cheese rind, basil, and crushed red pepper. (If you are using canned beans, add them in step 5 along with the spinach.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, potatoes, Baby Bam, and salt. Return to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. If your soup gets too thick before serving, you may need to add a bit more water or chicken broth.
- Add the spinach (and canned beans, if using) and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cheese rind with a slotted spoon, and serve.