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Supper suggestions: This is a bowl of beans, macaroni, and green leaves, so serve a green vegetable to start -- asparagus and artichokes are at their peak in spring. For dessert, there may be berries for a compote. Drain the soaked beans and place them in a pot with fresh cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tender. This could be as short a time as 30 minutes or as long as an hour. Taste along the way to catch them as soon as they become tender. In a 6- to 8-qt. pot, combine the olive oil and onions over medium-low heat. Let the onions cook, tossing occasionally, while you prepare the carrots, celery, and potatoes, in that order. Add each to the pot as it is ready and toss well to coat with oil. Stir the garlic into the vegetables; saute until you can smell it, about a minute. Add the broth, pepper, and cheese rind or prosciutto rind, if using one of them. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat so that soup simmers gently, partially covered, for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally. Stir in the Swiss chard and the cooked beans. Increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat again and simmer steadily, partially covered, another 10 minutes. Serve the soup over macaroni with grated cheese on the side. Makes about 5 quarts, serves 8 to 10. Advance preparation: Prepare as directed up to addition of Swiss chard and beans; the soup can be refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for up to six months. Bring to a brisk simmer before proceeding. Recipe from Soup Suppers by Arthur Schwartz (HarperPerennial, copyright 1993). Recipe by: Good Morning America
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