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Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup

1-1/4 cups dry Great Northern beans
12 ounces fresh Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1-3/4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 medium yellow summer squash or zucchini, sliced (2 cups)
1 14-1/2-ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, cut up
1/3 cup dry red wine or water
1/2 of a 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Rinse beans. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine beans and 4 cups cold water. Boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet cook Italian sausage until brown. Drain well on paper towels. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine the drained beans, 4 cups fresh water, beef broth, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, cooked and drained Italian sausage, squash or zucchini, undrained tomatoes, and red wine or water. Cook, covered, on low heat setting for 11 to 12 hours or until beans are tender.

Just before serving, stir spinach into soup. If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 or 5 servings.

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