Preparation / Directions:
Combine everything in a crock pot and cook on low for at least 8 hours. Stir thoroughly before serving. To thicken the soup a bit without adding calories, puree about 2 cups of the soup in a food processor and stir it
back into the soup. Italian variation: Pre-cook 1 pound of sweet or hot Italian sausage by steaming 15 minutes in about 1/2 inch of water in a skillet or by cooking at 5-minute intervals in a microwave oven. When cool enough to handle, slice the sausage and proceed as above, adding 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. The Italian version has such a lively flavor, it even tastes good on a summer day.