I’ve got a soup thing going on. Every weekend I seem to find myself in the kitchen cooking up pots of soup. Yes, it’s winter and soup seems like a natural meal, but here in sunny southern California we’ve been having unseasonably warm weather. The temperature doesn’t really matter to me. I am still craving soup.
Ribollita (which means re-boiled) is a soup I’ve made before but this time I followed a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks-The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti. I’ve talked about her other books here and here and this recent book featuring vegetables is just as good as the others.
Ribollita is a stick to your ribs kind of soup which makes it perfect for a winter supper. It’s chock full of vegetables and beans and thickened with slices of hearty country bread. My first bowl of ribollita was eaten some years back in a cozy trattoria in Radda in Chianti. Since then I’ve ordered it more than a few times and whenever I eat it I am transported back to that very first bowl. This version has me dreaming of Tuscany. Thanks Domenica!
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic lightly crushed
8 oz. tuscan kale (also known as dinosaur kale), coarsely shredded
8 oz. savoy cabbage, coarsely shredded
1⁄2 tsp. fine sea salt, or to taste
2 oz. pancetta, cut into small dice
2 carrots, cut into bite size, cut into bite size pieces, about 1 cup
2 small ribs celery, cut into bite size pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1⁄2 cup diced red or yellow onion
1 tbsp. minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 red bliss or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 14.5 oz.diced canned tomatoes
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, plus their liquid
4 cups vegetable broth or best quality commercial chicken broth
One 2″ piece of Parmigiano_Reggiano rind (optional)
4-6 cups of bread croutons
To make bread croutons, spread 2 cups cubed Italian country bread on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1-2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil over them. Toss well with a wooden spoon or spatula. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, if you like, and toss again. Spread the bread cubes out on a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are evenly brown and crisp. Let cool before using.
In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil with 2 cloves of garlic over medium-low heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the kale and cabbage in batches, covering the pan and letting the greens cook until they begin to wilt. Cook, stirring now and again, until the greens are wilted and tender, about 20 minutes. Season with the salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is lightly browned but not too crisp and has rendered its fat, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and parsley and toss to coat well with the oil. Cook until the vegetables are shiny and beginning to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, toss, and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the wilted greens and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the greens are heated through. Pour in the tomatoes and the beans and stir to combine everything well. Add the vegetable broth and raise the heat to medium-high. Toss in the Parmigiano rind, if using. Bring the soup to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low or low, and let the soup simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes.
Add the bread croutons and stir them into the soup. Let simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the ingredients have had a chance to meld. Taste and add additional salt if you like. Turn the heat off and cover the soup. Let it sit for just a few minutes to bring the flavors together.
Ladle the ribollita into shallow rimmed bowls and drizzle each serving with a little olive oil.