Chicken, Kale, and Quinoa Soup

4 center-cut bacon slices
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
6 cups chopped kale
2 teaspoons thyme leaves

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon; set aside.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, carrot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan.
3. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté 6 minutes or until chicken is browned and done. Stir in onion mixture, chicken stock, bay leaves, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil.
4. Place quinoa in a fine sieve; place sieve in a large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. ­Repeat procedure twice. Drain well. Add quinoa to pan; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add kale and thyme to pan; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Discard bay leaves. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with bacon.

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