This soup is really the basis for most of my soups. The variations are endless and are only limited by your imagination. Consider adding chopped pancetta or prosciutto with the sizzling shallots. Try adding vegetables like green beans or finely chopped cabbage. Experiment with leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, or escarole, making sure to blanch the last two. Omit the garlic and/or onion to allow for the other flavours to shine solo! Substitute one dried bean variety for another. I really don't think that you can go wrong. Experiment and find your favourite combinations.