Ribollita is a classic Tuscan peasant soup. It utilizes stale bread and inexpensive winter vegetables. Translated ribollita means “reboiled”. Many times left-over minestrone was used as its base. I admire the frugality of this soup because it also offers a wealth of nutrient rich vegetables. Leafy kale (cavalo nero in Tuscany), savoy cabbage, carrots, potatoes, celery,cannellini beans and tomatoes are all part of the ingredients. The stale bread stretches it to feed many. I was inspired to make this soup because I had a left-over chunk of the wonderful Parmesan bread that I made in my last post. It was perfect for this soup; a little dense and full of Parmesan flavor.
I reviewed several recipes for ribollita. Some included pancetta or bacon, some added garlic and rosemary, but I went with a classic recipe from Gabriele Corcos, who with his wife Debi Mazar, has the cooking show Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. Gabriele is a native of Tuscany. For me, this hearty soup had a depth of flavor that emanated from the vegetables. The tomatoes were kept to a minimum and water was used instead of broth to flavor the soup. So the overall flavor was mild with a rich earthy vegetable taste. This is most likely the way it was made originally. My husband decided he needed some meat, so added sauteed sausages to his soup.
This soup is very forgiving of any ingredients that you may want to add, and I have decided that I will be hoarding stale bread just for the purpose of making it. Warm, filling, delicious and good for you. You couldn’t ask for more.
Today is David’s birthday. Happy birthday to my partner, soul mate and best friend. As you can see we have a lot in common. But I don’t mind sharing kitchen space with him.
RIBOLLITA (Adapted from Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corsos and Debi Mazer)
8 ounces dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Or 1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans)*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch Tuscan kale or regular kale, leaves, removed and roughly chopped
1/2 head savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 pound stale country style bread (I used 1/3 of a loaf of Parmesan bread), cut into cubes
Rinse and drain the soaked beans. Bring a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot full of water to a boil. Add the beans, making sure they’re covered by a few inches of water, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for at least 1 hour, salting the water after 40 minutes, until tender. Drain the beans and set aside.
In an 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and saute’ for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent but not golden. Add the potatoes, kale and cabbage and saute’ for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted.
Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and the drained beans. Add enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until it thickens considerably.
Add the bread and continue cooking for another 30 minutes , until the crust of the bread begins falling apart.* If using canned beans add them when you add the bread.
Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of olive oil. Serves 6.