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1 1/2 lbs. dried fava, windsor, lima, or butter beans
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 lb. spare ribs (in 1 pieces)
1 lb. sm. Italian pork sausages
1/2 lb. lean bacon, in 1 piece
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
2-3 bulbs fennel with leaves, chopped
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 lg. ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
Slices of fried bread
Grated Parmesan cheese

Soak the beans overnight if possible or for at least 12 hours. Heat the oil in a large pan or heat-proof casserole and fry the pork and sausages. When the pork is well browned, add the drained beans and enough hot water to cover generously. Add the bacon and the prepared vegetables. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste; continue cooking slowly for about 2 hours. Add a little more water from time to time if necessary but never too much as the sauce should be thick.

When the meat is tender, almost to the point of being over-cooked by usual standards, first take out the pork and divide it into ribs. Then lift out the bacon and cut it into small pieces. Return both to the pan and reheat.

Serve the stew very hot, accompanied by slices of crisply fried bread and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

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