Beans shouldn’t just be relegated to a side dish. Let them be the star of a hearty but light meal full of flavor by slowly cooking dry beans with tons of aromatics. You may have extra bean liquid left over, as you need a generous amount to cook the beans properly. Simply use it in place of vegetable stock in another recipe or add to your next pot of beans.
Combine the beans, fennel, tomato, 6 cloves garlic and the lemon zest in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Tie the thyme, parsley stems and 1/2 leek together with kitchen twine; add to the pot. Add 4 1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, 7 to 9 hours.
Preheat the broiler. Discard the leek bundle from the beans and stir well. Gently smash the garlic against the side of the slow cooker; season with salt and pepper. Let stand uncovered.
Thinly slice the remaining 1/2 leek into matchsticks. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and crisp, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer the crispy leek to paper towels with a slotted spoon; season with salt. Reserve the leek oil.
Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the leek oil. Pour any excess leek oil into the beans. Broil the bread, turning once, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Rub with the remaining garlic clove and season with salt.
Stir the lemon juice into the beans. Divide among bowls with a slotted spoon; pour some bean broth into each bowl. Drizzle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Top with the crispy leek, chives and chopped parsley. Serve with the bread.