This Tuscan recipe for what is essentially a vegetable soup is one of my all time favorites, combining rich flavors and textures into a hearty winter warmer. The name ‘ribolita’ comes from the Italian for ‘reboiled’; traditionally this was a soup to use up leftover vegetables and other ingredients which were ‘reboiled’ together the next day. As such, you can substitute many of the ingredients without straying far from the spirit of the recipe. Kale is an Italian leafy green with a strong flavor, like broccoli. If you can’t find any, substitute with an equal amount of spinach or any other green vegetable. I like to soak and cook dried beans for this soup if I have time, as the cooking water can then be used in the soup for extra flavor but canned beans will work just fine.
Many recipes I have seen call for the soup to be served poured over a slice of yesterdays bread, but it is even nicer served with a crunchy slice of good bread toasted and dripping with butter.
Recipe: La Ribolita
- 1 Large brown onion
- 1 Carrot, peeled and roughly diced
- 1 Stick of celery, diced
- 2-3 Cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Rashers of smoky bacon or pancetta, chopped fine
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 small sprig rosemary
- 1 red chillie, chopped fine
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Olive oil
- 1 pint (1 litre) Vegetable stock
- 2 Large potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 Bunch of kale, roughly chopped, (2-3 cups when chopped) or equal amount of other greens
- 15oz (400g) Cooked beans of choice – kidney, white etc
- 1 15oz (400g) Can of whole tomatoes, blended
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese, bread and parsley to serve
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion, bacon or pancetta, carrot, celery, bay leaf, fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic and chillie. Sautee until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, potato and tomatoes and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
- After 10 minutes, add the Kale. If using other greens like spinach which cook more quickly, add after 20 minutes instead.
- Continue to cook, stirring, until the potatoes are soft.
- When nearly done, optionally puree a third of the beans. This gives the soup a great creamy texture. Stir in the whole and pureed beans and simmer for another minute, until the beans are heated through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with hot toast, either buttered or with a drizzle of olive oil, and garnished with grated parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of parsley.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4