Put bread in large bowl; sprinkle with water til bread is evenly moistened. Let bread soak about 10 minutes. Squeeze bread as dry as possible; separate into pieces and set aside. In large pan, heat olive oil. Add garlic and sage. Saute lightly about 3 to 4 minutes. Add celery and onion; cook til vegetables are tender. Add bread; stir to evenly coat bread with oil. Add sauce to bread mixture. Stir in hot broth, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Stir mixture to break up remaining bread cubes. Reheat over low heat. Serve in rimmed bowls; drizzle with olive oil before serving if desired. Garnish with fresh sage leaves. Serves 6
This recipe is a lighter variation on the classic country style soup. For greater authenticity, add 1 cup cooked and drained cannellini beans and 1 pound Savoy cabbage, cut into 1/2 inch strips, before bring soup to a boil. The secret to this heart and satisfying soup: Allow mixture to stand and thicken long enough that it begs to be eaten with a fork.