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Tuscan Bread Soup

5 cups chicken stock
1 pound chicken breasts, skinned
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic,minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 sweet green pepper, diced
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 can (19 ounce) tomatoes, coarsely chopped, undrained
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 package fresh spinach (10 ounce), chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 can (19 ounce) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (red would do also)
8 thick slices stale french or italian bread
1 cup parmesan cheese

In large saucepan, bring chicken stock, chicken breasts and bay
leaves to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes
or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove chicken and
discard the bones. Dice meat and set aside. Discard bay leaves.
Keep stock warm.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of the oil over medium
heat, cook chopped onion, garlic, diced carrots and celery for 10
minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining oil, diced green
pepper, chopped cabbage, thyme and rosemary, cook over low heat,
stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Add vegetable mixture to stock in saucepan along with tomatoes and
pepper, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add spinach, parsley, zucchini, kidney beans and reserved diced
chicken, cook for 5 minutes. Remove 1 cup soup and set aside.

Ladle half of the remaining soup into 24-cup dutch oven or casserole,
cover with 4 of the bread slices and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.
Cover with remaining soup, layer with remaining bread. Drizzle
reserved soup over top, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
(Recipe can be prepared to this point, cooled, covered and refrigerated
for up to 24 hours.) Bake, covered in 3500 oven for 20 minutes
(45 minutes if refrigerated), uncover and bake for 20 minutes longer
(45 minutes if refrigerated) or until hot.

Garnish: ladle soup into large warmed bowls, garnish with drizzle
of olive oil and sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Makes
about 6 servings.


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