Ribollita- Tuscan Twice-Boiled Vegetable, Bean & Bread Soup
How would you like to tuck-into a bowl or two of this deliciously rich, Tuscan vegetable soup? Ah, of course you would! My next question is... do you have 2-3 days worth of time to prepare it? Because depending how you look at it- it can indeed take that long!
But if you keep cool about it and don't stress or obsess, and just make it "by-the-by", you will have made it without even knowing it... but you will be so glad that you made the tiny bit of effort that is involved!
Ok- here are a couple of reasons to "chill" about making this.
One- people think they need to soak beans overnight before boiling them. Forgeddaboudit! It might save you 10-15 minutes cooking time. I say- so what? If you want to soak them... fine- that will cost you 1 nights-worth of time more!
Being as this soup is cooked over 2 consecutive days- those beans are going to spend a night in liquid anyway! So- cut out that step!
...and Two- all you need to do is a little chopping! Everything goes into one pot, you turn on the heat and forget about it for an hour or so- and on the next day, you basically only need to re-heat it.
It's really no big deal!
Ah, the ingredients! Looks like a lot, right? Looks complicated? Well- the only "rules" to making this are that you use kale- Tuscan of course being best, a handful of beans- Cannelini are nice and Borlotti's are also good- as were the butter beans I used this time and some stale bread. The other ingredients can vary, depending on what you have in your fridge- just like with a minestrone.
So- what did I have, to make 4 good bowls of soup?
9-10 leaves of kale, 1 handful of beans, 2 small potatoes, 1 onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1/2 of a zucchini, a wedge of celery root, 1 small red pepper, about 4" of leek, 9-10 cherry tomatoes, a little fresh parsley, some dried oregano, 1 bay leaf and by way of bread, one small breakfast roll that was past it's prime. So, it is just a little bit of whatever you have in the fridge basically... welcome to the real world!
Oh- and one more important ingredient... some good olive oil... of course!
And for every bit as simple as it sounds- and even though this really is a paupers meal... oh boy is it a delicious one!
So- quantities. let me say, looking at what I used... that I would use the rule of thumb of simply having the same amount of each vegetable, except for the kale, which can be twice the amount of the others, by merit of the fact that it will wilt down a lot during cooking.
The great flavor comes from the combination of all of the ingredients- you really do not need to add much more than salt and pepper and they will do the rest for you!
Chop all of the ingredients up relatively finely- you don#t need to overdo it- but you do want those little chunks to fit on your spoon! lol!
Pop all of the ingredients except for the zucchini, the leek and maybe 4-5 of the tomatoes into a pot, add enough water to cover them and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, put on the lid and let it bubble away for an hour.
After an hour, the vegetables are cooked through of course, but just leave them on the hot stove top and they will continue "cooking" in their own residual heat. And kiss that saucepan goodby until tomorrow.
The name "ribollita" means "re-boiled" by the way.... it's just the way it's done! The deep flavor develops and enriches overnight. Just like in the old days!
The next evening, add the diced zucchini, the leek, the remaining tomatoes, the bread and a good pinch of dried oregano. Check the seasoning to see f you need anymore salt, then bring it up to the boil, reduce to a low simmer and let it bubble away again for an hour. Add a little more water as well if necessary- you need enough to have everything covered and the bread will soak up a lot during cooking.
I guess it MAY depend on what kind of bread you use, but basically, it will practically dissolve away completely and simply go to thicken the broth- as did mine, giving the soup body and richness.
All that is needed once the soup is done, is a good sprinkle of coarsely ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil- just for that perfect finishing touch!
I can hardly imagine a more inviting and delicious soup to be honest! How about you? For me, this just has "comfort food" written all over it!
And all I have left to say is that I think you should make this, that you should enjoy this... and simply- buon appetito!