Monday, October 5, 2009

La Ribollita

When I was in my mid 20's I back packed solo through Europe for 6 weeks. Italy was one of my absolute favorite places I visited. I spent some of my time in Tuscany and spent a wonderful day in the quaint little town, San Gimignano. It was pouring rain when I got there, so I found a local restaurant to wait out the storm. I sat down and wrote in my journal while I had one of the most incredible soups I have ever had! I made a note of it and came back to New York looking for the exact recipe of what I had. "La Ribollita" is Italian for reboiled and "refers to the fact that in the old days the soup was reheated and served day after day."

Though I call this a soup, it is very hearty and more like a thick stew just to warn you. I make this several times a year, and this recipe is as close as I have gotten to what I had on that rainy day in Tuscany. Tonight is a little chilly, so we have a fire going, sweaters on and I thought this would be the perfect soup for dinner tonight.

La Ribollita Adapted from Complete Italian, by Hamlyn

1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
4 Tb. pureed Italian tomatoes
6 Tb. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 carrots, thickly sliced into rings
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 potatoes roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn (optional)
1 medium Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (I used Napa Cabbage, couldn't find Savoy)
4 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/2 Tb. fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, (or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped)
4 slices stale white bread (I used 12 grain from La Brea bread company)
salt and pepper

Drain and rinse cannellini beans. Blend half of the beans and the tomatoes in a food processor.

Heat 4 Tb. olive oil in a large soup pot, add the vegetables and cook gently, stirring frequently for 10 minutes until soft.
Add the pureed tomatoes and beans and stir well to mix, then add the cabbage, water, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. ring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Tear the bread into the soup and add the whole beans. Stir well to mix, then simmer for 10 more minutes. Check the seasoning, serve hot, drizzled with the remaining oil.
Note: this is a pretty versatile recipe, feel free to add any other veggies you have lying around. Green beans would be a nice addition, or substitution as well.
PS, Owen absolutely LOVED this dish and it's full of good stuff which makes us both happy : )

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