White Bean and Winter Tarragon Soup with Fennel
8 ounces Great Northern white beans
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced, about one cup
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoons fresh winter tarragon leaves, chopped*
3 Tablespoons thinly sliced ham, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
Sort through the beans to remove rocks and other items. Put in a container and cover with four inches of water. Soak overnight. Drain off the water.
In a stainless steel pot heat the olive oil. Saut the onion and the fennel until golden. Add the grated lemon peel and the garlic. Cook for one minute to release the flavors. Add the stock, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the beans until soft, about one hour.
Stir in the tarragon, reserving 1/2 teaspoon to use for garnish. Add the ham, stirring to blend all flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into decorative soup bowls and garnish with the remaining tarragon.
* French tarragon can be substituted for winter tarragon.