Winter, regardless of the severity of your weather, means soup to most folks. Soup has good hot weather credibility as well but in winter it soothes, warms and comforts. There has been catastrophic weather all over the country this winter and it is my great hope that when it is possible to provide nourishment, someone will make soup.
Ribollita is a traditional Italian soup. The name literally means “reboiled”. It is meant to be leftovers thickened with day old bread. The Italians call it “la cucina povera” – poor cooking. As with all dishes that have this type of origin, the ingredients are simple.
Enjoy this delicious recipe for Ribollita! I have added a few suggestions/comments at the end.
- ½ pound dried white beans, Cannellini, Great Northern or Navy
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup McEvoy Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ pound pancetta, diced
- 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces
- 4 cups savoy or regular cabbage, shredded
- 4 cups lacinato kale, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Good quality bread, crusts removed and torn into chunks
- ⅓ cup McEvoy Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Olio Nuovo
- Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Olio Nuovo for garnish
- Cover beans with water – be sure to have 2” of head space for beans to expand. Dissolve salt in the water and taste. It should be mildly salty (Please see former blog about salting to mitigate your fears about salting beans ahead of time.) Soak beans overnight, or as long as 48 hours.
- Drain beans and rinse thoroughly. Place in a large pot with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 45 minutes. Taste periodically to check for doneness. When beans are tender, set aside and let cool in their liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat Olive Oil in a large pot. Add pancetta and onion and saute over medium low heat until onion is translucent, approximately 10 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook another approximately 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cabbage, kale and thyme. Cook another approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. Puree half of the beans with a little of their cooking liquid. Add to the pot along with the whole beans.
- Combine the bean liquid and stock to make 8 cups of liquid. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Let soup cool and refrigerate.
- While soup is cooking or cooling, toss bread chunks with olive oil and toast in a 350 F oven until brown and crisp. Reserve for later use.
- Warm soup – “rebollito” – and pour over the olive oil toasted bread that you have placed in the bottom of the bowl.
- Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Olio Nuovo and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan.
Here are some tips, photos for instruction, inspiration and interesting facts.
BEANS – If possible, always try to cook your own beans. Not only is it more economical, there are culinary and digestive reasons as well. Beans contain phytic acid and oligosaccharides that are antinutrients and do not digest easily. The soaking and rinsing “breaks the phytic bond” and makes them more digestible. Adding kombu, a seaweed that is available dried, while cooking the beans also helps break down the acids and sugars to help with digestion. Kombu also adds beneficial minerals and there is no seaweed taste. The best way to determine if the beans are done is simply to taste test them periodically during the cooking to see if they are tender.
If, like most of us, your time is tight and canned beans are the only option you can make work, just go for it. The soup will still be delicious!
You will find many variations on this recipe. Potatoes are frequently added. I have seen recipes that include sausage. One recipe suggests that if the soup gets thick enough you can make it into a cake and fry it in olive oil. So, don’t feel constrained – let your pantry and your imagination take it where you want to go.
In addition to the rainy weather, this Savoy cabbage at the Farmer’s Market provided inspiration – beautiful!
Making the mirepoix.
Here is the soup assembled but not simmered.
Here is the soup after a half hour simmer.
Here are the bread chunks after toasting with olive oil.
If the weather has you snug inside and you have ingredients and a working stove, this can be a soothing and restorative way to spend a day. If there are leftovers, they will be even better!
Enjoy – tuck in – stay warm!