sea salt, pepper to season
Soak beans overnight in large pot. Water should be at least 3 inches higher than beans.
Pick over beans, discarding any that are discolored.Bring beans to a boil in water using carrot tops, . Drain beans.
Add to prepared pot below.In large pot, saute bacon until crisp. Remove, chop finely.
Add in onion, carrot, celery (and fennel if using fresh) and cook until nearly soft.
Add in garlic, cook a minutes, but not browning.
Add in chicken broth. Add in beans that were brought to boil and drained)
Add in fennel seed, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, red pepper.
Cook for at least two hours.
Once beans are cooked through, remove 1/4 to 1/3 and using a blender or immersion blender, blend to a puree. Return to soup. Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaf
Add in optional crunchy rice and bacon..