If you've been reading this blog, you KNOW that I cannot cook. I burn, I nuke (microwave), and make salads quite well, but cooking is not one of my talents.
Still, many years ago before kids (BK), I traveled to Tuscany and experienced tried a food that changed my life. It's called ribollita.
For those who don't know, ribollita is a Tuscan bean soup. According to Wikipedia, the soup has peasant roots when it was originally made by reheating (or reboiling) leftover minestrone soup from the previous day. Some say the soup dates back to the Middle Ages when servants gathered up the bread from their lords' banquets and used it in their own dinners. Ribollita is made from leftover vegetables you have in your kitchen, beans, stock, perhaps some cheese, and old, crusty bread. It's one of those “throw together” suppers. The ribollita we had at a restaurant was so thick and hearty, you could eat it with a fork.
|Ribollita is a hearty, healthy soup!|
Ever since then, I've been trying to re-create that original dish, but to no avail. Either my stock is off or the mix of vegetables isn't right. Until now. On the website Chewnibblenosh.com, they had a recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentis (find her original here).
Yesterday, I modified the recipe even further to come up with THE BEST version of ribollita I've had since that original experience in Italy years ago!
Before I even list the ingredients, let me preface this by saying that MOST Italian food tastes better when it's had time to gel. By that I mean, make this either in the morning of the evening you're going to serve it, as I did, or the day before. In time, the flavors will coalesce, making it more flavorful the longer you leave it. This recipe supposedly serves 4 to 6 people, but my family had at least 6 servings of it yesterday, and we can easily get three more out of it.
Here's the recipe:
½ c extra-virgin olive oil
2 chopped onions (I used frozen chopped onions since I hate chopping them)
4 small carrots, chopped
4 to 6 ounces of chopped pancetta (I bought this in a package at the grocery store)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of salt & pepper (to taste)
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatos, with the juice
1 (10 oz.) box of frozen, chopped spinach
2 cans of Cannelini beans
1 teaspoon each of dried thyme and rosemary
6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 inch piece of Parmesan rind – save the rest of the cheese for grating on top
Any other veggies you might have lying around
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
½ loaf of leftover Italian or French bread (you can also use leftover bagels, matzoh, etc.)
- In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, pancetta, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook about 10 minutes until the onion browns and the pancetta begins to crisp. Add the tomato paste and stir into the mixture. Then add the tomatos with the juice and the broth, stirring constantly.
- Add the beans, spinach, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, broth, leftover veggies, mozzarella, and the Parmesan rind. Break the bread into pieces and put it on top of the soup. Bring the soup to a low boil and keep it going for at least 25 minutes. I had it going until it boiled over, then just left it on the stove (sans heat) for a few hours.
- Discard the bay leaf, stir the bread (which has absorbed the soup) into the ribollita, and spoon the soup into bowls. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I had three bowls of this ribollita and could EASILY have had more!
Ribollita is a great dish during cold season and can easily be adapted depending on what vegetables the family likes.
It's nutritious and makes the house smell wonderful!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab another bowl before the family gets to it. I LOVE this soup!
Thanks for reading!!!