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French Market Soup

1 ham hock
2 c. assorted beans (no need to soak)
1 bay leaf
3 parsley sprigs
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 lg. can crushed tomatoes
2 med. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 stalks celery, chopped (leaves optional)
5-6 carrots, sliced
1 lb. Italian sausage (sweet or hot), or 2 chicken breasts, chopped

Simmer the hock, beans, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt and 9 cups water for 2 1/2-3 hours. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped sausage or chicken breasts. Simmer 1 1/2-2 hours longer. Add 1/2 cup sherry, if desired. Serves 8-10.

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