"Cotechino is a large, Italian pork sausage traditionally served to celebrate the New Year. Its thick casing is pierced all over with a knife, then gently braised in a pot of lentils until done.
After the sausage is cooked, it's sliced into round coins, which are then fried crisp in a pan, and used to garnish the lentils or beans."
Place cranberry beans into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in onion. Cook, stirring, until onions are softened and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cranberry beans, chicken broth, water, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and thyme.
Pierce Cotechino all over with the tip of a knife, then place in broth and beans mixture. Bring to a simmer, skimming any foam that accumulates. Reduce heat to low; cook until beans are tender, 1 hour. Transfer Cotechino to a cutting board; discard string and casing, then slice into 1/4-inch rounds.
Stir Swiss chard into bean and broth mixture. Simmer until chard is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the Cotechino rounds until crisped and browned, about 1 minute per side. Ladle beans into bowls and top with Cotechino rounds.