1 cup Borlotti, or October beans 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns 1 sprig fresh thyme 4 parsley sprigs 1 bay leaf 2 tablespoons olive oil 3/4 cup sliced onions 3/4 cup sliced celery 3/4 cup sliced leek, white and light green parts only, washed 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash or pumpkin 10 fresh sage leaves, minced 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 ounces prosciutto, finely diced (optional) freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup shredded or coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1. Soak the beans in water overnight or at least 6 hours.
2. Make an herb bundle: in a small piece of clean cheesecloth, place the peppercorns, thyme, parsely and bay leaf. Close the bundle by tying with a piece of kitchen twine.
3. Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a 3-quart saucepan, and add the onions, celery, leeks, squash, bay leaf, sage and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned. Add the beans and 8 cups water.
4. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Season with the salt and cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
5. To serve: Discard the herb bundle, add the prosciutto, if using, and simmer 3-5 minutes until cooked. Season with freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Pour the soup into warm bowls and garnish with the grated Parmigiano.
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