The traditional approach to ribollita is to take leftover minestrone soup and stale bread and boil them together to thicken the soup. This can make a really THICK soup - I hav a recipe for leftover ribollita that suggest you cut the leftovers into slices and fry them up. I didn't have any leftover minestrone, but I had stale bread on hand (I have been cooking from Jim Lahey's My Bread like a demon - thus, lots of stale bread. more to come on My Bread shortly.).
The recipe I'm giving you is based on what I did for dinner; I make no claims as to its authenticity as it's a much faster version of what should be a two-day dish. Substitute whatever vegetables and beans you have on hand. If you don't have stale bread, you can use fresh bread and dunk it instead. Whatever bread you use, make sure it's a "rustic" style loaf - it should have a sturdy crumb and can be white or whole wheat.
Serves 3-4 hearty appetites
Serves 3-4 hearty appetites
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- piece of parmesan rind, optional - this is the hard rind on a hunk of parmesan
- 1 large can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
- 2 small cans (15 oz.) of kidney beans, drained - I used dried beans that I had cooked and stored in the freezer for this, but I figure most of you would use canned beans (as I would if I didn't have cooked beans on hand)
- large bag of frozen chopped spinach - use cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli rabe, or any other combination of greens. This is what I had on hand.
- 2-3 thick slices of stale bread, from a rustic loaf, see note above
- salt and pepper
- good quality olive oil
In a soup kettle or large pot, saute the onion, celery and carrots in a little olive oil until starting to soften, but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute or two, until fragrant.
Chop the tomatoes up and add to the pot (the easiest way to do this is crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot, second easiest is to cut them up in the can with a pair of scissors). Add the beans and parmesan rind, if using, to the pot. If using cabbage or another tough green, add it to the pot now. If the pot seems too dry add a little water to the pot. Stir, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes; the carrots should be tender.
Add the chopped spinach to the pot, if using, and simmer another 5 minutes or so. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the texture of the soup with water: it should be on the soupy side of stew as it will thicken up once you add the bread. Check again for salt and adjust if necessary.
Tear the slices of bread into crouton-sized pieces and lay into the bottom of soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the bread and then drizzle with olive oil. Don't eat the parmesan rind.