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16 BEAN SOUP 
1 pkg 16 dry Bean Soup
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
3 stalks celery, stringed and sliced thinly
1/2 lb baby carrots
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Italian sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans chicken stock
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1 chicken bouillon cube
water to cover ingredients

Slice casings of sausage meat and crumble into a skillet. Add olive oil and saute over medium high heat until outside of sausage begins to brown. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic near end. Sausage meat does not need to cook, only brown slightly. Do not allow garlic to brown.

Deglaze pan with chicken stock, and transfer contents of pan to Crockpot.

Add remaining ingredients except for tomatoes to Crockpot.

Set Crockpot to high setting and cook for 2 hours, then cook an additional 3-5 hours on low setting or until beans are tender. Note: Do not allow to boil - choose a setting low enough to keep at a simmer only!

Check occasionally to see if more liquid is required as beans expand during cooking. Add tomatoes during final hour of cooking.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Can be served over pasta or rice.

Note: When in season, fresh herbs may be substituted for dried for enhanced flavor.

Submitted by: CM
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