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Escarole Soup with Cranberry Beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped leek (white part only)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
7 cups fat free chicken broth
1 cup cooked cranberry beans
1 bay leaf
1 sprig Italian parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 head escarole (1 pound), washed, drained, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
2 to 3 teaspoons salt or to taste
fresh black pepper to taste
grated fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)

Soak 1/2 cup beans overnight in 2 cups water. Drain and combine in
a saucepan with 2 cups water, 1/4 peeled onion, 1 small garlic
clove (peeled), and 1/2 bay leaf. Simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours until
tender, but not falling apart. Remove the garlic, onion and bay
leaf. Drain and use in the recipe.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the
onion, leek, and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes, until soft.
Add the broth, beans, herbs, and Parmesan rind, if using. Bring to
a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes

Add the escarole and simmer for about 5 minutes until it is tender.
Remove herbs and cheese rind. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately, grated with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes about 10 cups.

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