Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ribollita Soup

I first had this soup shortly after arriving in Florence. I went to a restaurant with a group of people from the university and this was served - and I fell in love :) As soon as I could I made my way to the local marketplace and got all the ingredients I needed and made it in my little Florentine apartment - this post is the result! Ribollita is a delicious vegetable/bread soup from the Tuscan region of Italy. It has its origins as a peasant dish, using inexpensive vegetables as well as stale bread to thicken it up - it was made in large batches and reheated for several days...the name literally means "boiled twice". It is considered a piatti tipici toscani, which means it is one of the handful of dishes that are traditional to this region, and still prevalent in Tuscan cooking. This is a slightly modified version from the Italian Regional Cuisine recipe provided by my chef. This soup lends itself well to the local veggies we grow in Alaska...I cannot wait to make it with my own produce this summer, and I will probably never stray too far from this recipe - it is excellent. ~Patti
1/2 pound Cannellini beans, already boiled with some of the cooking water reserved (or canned)
6 ounces diced pancetta (bacon if not available) 
3 cups Cavolo Nero (black cabbage) for us it is the dark dinosaur kale, cleaned and chopped
2 cups chopped red or yellow onions (or both for color)
3 carrots, medium diced
3 celery stalks, medium diced
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped (can use fresh, but these are the best flavor)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock (or veggie) I use chicken - homemade if possible, or Knorr is a good brand
3-4 cups stale bread, crusts off. Pane Toscano is what is used here, but a dense white with no salt (if possible) is the same  
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling - a nice robust one
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese, grated for serving

Serves 8-10 servings

Cavolo Nero, or black cabbage - similar to Dinosaur Kale

Heat oil in large stock pot. Add pancetta and onions & cook gently until onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

Add carrots, celery, red pepper flakes. Cook about 10 minutes until veggies are tender. 

Add tomatoes and juices from the can. 

Add kale and basil and cook 10 more minutes on low-medium heat.

Puree half the beans with a little of their liquid. Add these, plus the remainder of whole beans to the pot. 

Use the rest of any bean liquid (if canned there won't really be any, but if you cook your own beans there will be) plus the chicken stock to make 6 cups. Add the liquid to the pot and bring it all to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add bread chunks. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Give the pot a good mix. Serve in bowls with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the olive oil.

It should be a thick, satisfying soup. Even better the next day. Molto Gustoso! 

I did not have a blender when I made this, so I could not blend any of my beans - the finished result does not have quite the same consistency. Depending on whether you blend or not, your finished soup may look a little different.

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