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Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

This looked super tasty, and I am always looking for new soups or Crock Pot recipes, and this was both!!  Because of the low cost of beans, it was pretty inexpensive, and made a large pot.  I spiced it up by adding some ground Italian Sausage to it, and it was fabulous.  Enjoy with some nice crusty bread, and you have your meal ready to go when you get home.
Serves 6-8 for about $0.78/serving (if you add the sausage); $0.42/serving (without sausage)
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2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion $0.33
½ lb. carrots $0.55
4 stalks celery $0.80
1 lb. dry navy beans $1.69 (I used northern beans)
1 whole bay leaf
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp smoked paprika
Freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a mill)
1½ tsp (or more to taste) salt
lb. ground Italian Sausage, cooked and crumbled (optional) – $2.89
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Mince the garlic, dice the onion, slice the celery, and slice the carrots into thin rounds. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots to a large slow cooker, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper.
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Sort through the beans and remove any debris or stones. Give them a quick rinse and then add them to the slow cooker.
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Add Seven CUPS of water to the slow cooker and stir to combine the ingredients. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, stir the soup and mash the beans slightly (I opted to keep the beans whole, and not mash them).
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This is when I added the sausage, and then the salt.  Starting with just a ½ tsp, add salt to your liking. I used about 1 tsp total since I added the sausage, but keep tasting and adding more, ½ tsp at a time, until it reaches the level that you prefer.