I first encountered Ribollita a few months ago when Ina Garten made it one Sunday afternoon. I had no idea what Ribollita was but was immediately drawn in when Ina reached for her big white soup pot. She spent the next few minutes filling the pot with beans, cabbage, tomatoes, bread….she didn’t stop until the pot was literally filled to the top with vegetable goodness.
Ribollita literally means “reboiled” and is made in the same tradition as other Tuscan food – classic ingredients and simple preparation.
I can’t rave enough about this soup. It is so hearty and filling — a great choice for lunch alongside a salad or for dinner on a chilly night. (Hence its constant presence in my kitchen this winter). On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to make and leaves you with plenty of leftovers! (Great if you’ve been having weeks like I have lately and just don’t feel like cooking too often) You can easily freeze half of it and keep the other half in the fridge for meals throughout the week. And this soup can stand up to substitutions so feel free to sub in Italian parsley for basil (as I did this time), or double the cabbage and omit the kale.
You start with an enormous pot of vegetables.
That will slowly simmer down and thicken. Then add the bread.
And you get this:
Not bad for peasant food.
RibollitaAdapted from Ina Garten
The original recipe calls for bacon and chicken stock. To make this soup vegetarian, swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock and omit the bacon.
1/2 pound dried white beans or 1 can of white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
3 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
If using dried beans: In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator. Proceed with directions below.
If using canned beans: Rinse and drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.