Mermaid Soup with Toast Island

Ingredients:

4 slices uncooked thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, chopped

2 sprigs rosemary, left whole

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 dried Bay leaf

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper

2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans

[2] can[s] fire roasted tomatoes

1 quart chicken stock, low salt

1 1/2 c. small pasta shells

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Baguette bread, cut into slices

sliced provolone

Directions:

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add oil and bacon. Brown bacon and add herbs, bay leaf, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Add beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, water, and stock. Heat on high until soup begins to boil. Add in small pasta shells. Reduce heat to medium and cook until shells are al dente. Remove the bay leaves. To serve, spoon into bowls and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

To make cheesy toast: cut baguette into slices and top with sliced provolone. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and place under broiler till melted. Float on the top of the soup to simulate an island!