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1. Place beans in a large Dutch oven; add enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; boil gently for 10 minutes. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
2. Drain beans; rinse beans. Set aside. Cut an 8-inch square from a double thickness of 100% cotton cheesecloth. Place the halved garlic head and the sage in center of cheesecloth square. Bring up the corners; tie closed with 100% cotton kitchen string. In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker combine beans, garlic-sage packet, broth, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or until beans are tender but not mushy.
3. Discard garlic-sage packet. Use a potato masher to slightly mash some of the beans (this will thicken the soup a little).
4. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, if using; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Add onion, carrots, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in thyme and the minced garlic; cook about 30 seconds more.
5. If using low-heat setting, turn cooker to high-heat setting. Stir vegetable mixture into mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook about 1 hour more or until vegetables are soft and soup has thickened slightly. Stir in kale and parsley. (If desired, to meld the flavors, cool soup; cover and chill for up to 24 hours. To serve, reheat soup in the slow cooker, on the rangetop, or in the oven.
6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet; brush both sides of each slice lightly with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through baking time. Cool bread slightly; lightly rub the whole garlic clove over one side of each piece of the hot toast. Place one toast in each bowl. Ladle hot soup over toast. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese. If desired, drizzle with additional olive oil.