You've all heard about the amazing extra virgin olive oil we produce in Tuscany. Maybe you also know that picking the olives in November is a labour of love for us small farmers - all hand picked under the frost and in some lucky days with some sun to warm us up. The olive picking has to be done very quickly so the picked olives don't wait more then 4 or 5 days until we take them in to be crushed and get our olive oil. The days are short so there is no time to stop to eat for lunch. But when the weather is really cold, nothing beats having a plate of hot soup in the middle of the olive grove. So one of the ladies will take the morning off to cook this soup to warm our souls. It makes a wonderful soup for a winter day! —Maria Teresa Jorge
Wash the dry beans and soak them in water overnight.
In a large pot, put the soaked beans, cover with water, add the 2 garlic cloves, the sage leaves, and some of the olive oil. Do not add salt at this point because the beans don't cook. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the beans are well cooked.
Cut up the potatoan and squash in small similar size pieces. Slice the onion and the remaining garlic. Wash the leaves of the Cavolo Nero and shred them in medium sized pieces. (You don't want to have a huge piece of cabbage hagging from your mouth when you are eating the soup!!)
In a pot, add olive oil, the sliced onion, the garlic, the potatoes, squash and the Cavalo Nero. Stir and add 1 ladle of the beans cooking water. Add a little salt and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile discard the sage leaves, strain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. Divide your beans. Reserve 1/4 whole and purée the remaining 3/4 with a blender, adding some cooking liquid.
Add the puréed beans and the whole beans to the vegetables, add cooking liquid as necessary, adjust the salt, add some freshly ground black pepper and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Serve the soup in bowls, drizzle some olive oil on top and eat with slices of bread. The traditional way of serving this soup in Tuscany, is putting stale slices of bread on the bottom of a bowl and the soup is poured on top.
Note: If you like this soup, drop in our house in Tuscany, come help harvest the olives and I'll serve you the soup under an Olive tree.