2 garlic cloves
Soak the beans in water to cover for 12 hours. Drain and set aside. (If you use organic beans, cook them for a couple hours before putting in the soup to keep cooking with the rest of ingredients).
Discard the hard stalks from the cabbage; slice the leaves roughly and set aside.
In a deep saucepan warm 3 tbsp. of the olive oil. Add most of the onion and fry gently until translucent. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes. Add the cabbage and pour in the water. Add the beans and the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for at least two hours.
Bread preparation: ‘old’ bread is best. If you don’t have 2-4 day-old bread, toast the fresh slices, rub on one side with the garlic and pour the soup over them. Before serving, return the soup and the bread to the cooking pot. Bring to a boil and then serve. You may sprinkle the remaining onion on the soup (we didn’t!). Certainly you will want to put a few drops of olive oil on the soup once it is served on individual bowls.