Monday, January 5, 2009

Ribollita!

I fell in love with ribollita when I was touring Italy with my family in the summer of 2000, I think. We sat in a rustic restaurant, and even though it was the middle of summer, I was LOVING the soup. Ribollita means re-boiled in Italian. To make it correctly, you cook the soup the day before, then, stack pieces of stale bread in a container-- a dutch oven, perhaps-- and then dump the soup over it. You store it, refrigerated for a day and then scoop some out and reboil it for dinner. The bread thickens the soup and letting it sit allows the flavors to marry.





This is a quick version, adapted from the one my cousin-in-law recommends from Giada DeLaurentis. The original has boring spinach in it. Instead, I added very thinly sliced green cabbage and dinosaur kale for the delicious cruciferous greens. Also, the original calls for pancetta, but I could only find prosciutto. AND I didn't add a parmesan rind. It would probably be good-- it just turned out that we didn't have one like I thought we did. I might also add some crushed red pepper next time for a bit of ZING!

This version isn't vegetarian due to the prosciutto and chicken broth, but I think this recipe would still be very tasty with veggie broth and skipping the meat-- though, you might want to add a spot of chipotle powder or liquid smoke.

What you need:
  • about a 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (or prosciutto), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur (aka Tuscan) kale, stripped from the main vein and chopped
  • 1/4 of head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan rind (optional)
  • some slices of good crusty Italian bread
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

What to do:
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta/prosciutto, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.
  4. Add the cabbage, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, stir, and simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread slices with olive oil. Toast until golden brown in a toaster over, or you big ole' oven at about 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with a whole garlic clove (if you wish-- I might skip this next time.)
  7. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan or good olive oil and serve immediately.

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