Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water; bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans, and set aside.
Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium- high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan.
Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Add beans. Stir in chicken broth and remaining 5 ingredients. Crumble 6 slices bacon into soup. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 30 minutes or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Cool 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Place 6 cups soup in a blender; process at low speed until smooth. Stir pureed soup into remaining soup in pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated. Ladle into bowls. Crumble remaining 2 slices bacon, and sprinkle evenly over soup.