- 1 pound dried white beans, such as white kidney (cannellini) or great Northern, rinsed and picked over
- 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 quarts Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth 
- 3/4 pound diced cooked chicken
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
Put the beans into a large pot or bowl. Add water to cover by 2 inches and soak for at least 8 hours or overnight, then drain. For a quick soak, bring the beans and water to a boil over high heat and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 1 hour. Drain.
Fry the bacon in a heavy medium stockpot over medium-high heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift onto paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pot. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots soften, about 1 minute.
Add the beans to the pot with the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Stir in the chicken and the reserved bacon and heat through. Remove and discard bay leaves.
Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle with the grated cheese.