Chicken, Spinach, Pasta and White Bean Soup

adapted from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone

1 cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained and picked over, or 2 cans of Cannellini beans, drained

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks

1 large onion, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

1 large potato, peeled and diced, small cubes

4 cups chicken stock

6 cups water

1 chicken bullion cube, if desired

1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup orzo, or other very small pasta shape

8 oz. baby spinach leaves, chopped

2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the beans by placing them in a bowl with water covering by 2 inches.  Let the beans stand for 6 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and place them in a large slow cooker.  Add the chicken, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes (with juice), potato, broth, water, rosemary, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt, and 2 or 3 twists of fresh ground pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beans are very tender.

Stir in the pasta and spinach leaves.  Taste the broth and add a bullion cube if needed.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings.  Spoon the soup into serving bowls and drizzle each portion with olive oil.

NOTE:  Be certain to taste the broth.  We found that it needed the addition of a bullion cube.  When I make this again, I will use less water and more chicken stock.  I would adjust this to your taste preference.