Sunday, December 4, 2011
Ribollita (Italian Bread and Vegetable Soup)
Ribollita is the Italian word for reboiled. It is also a very common Tuscan soup. The soup began as day old minestrone soup with leftover bread added, that was reboiled. It is a very hearty thick soup, that is filled with vegetables. Some people believe that Ribollita dates back at the Middle Ages. The soup used to be considered "peasant food" because it is made from very common and inexpensive ingredients.
I first discovered Ribollita when I was studying abroad in Florence. I fell in love with all of the wonderful food the city had to offer. The school I attended had a series of cooking classes, which I attended with my friend Woody (who designed this blog). During one of these classes we learned how to make Ribollita, and it became one of my favorite Tuscan foods. I began ordering at restaurants and noticed that every restaurant's soup was a little different. I still remember enjoying ZaZa's Ribollita which was so thick you could eat it with a fork.
I like to make Ribollita in the beginning of winter. It is the perfect meal on a cold Chicago day. It warms you up and fills you up. It is also a really healthy meal - a perfect escape from all the unhealthy holiday eating. I will make a big batch and then freeze most of it in containers just the right size for an individual serving. A big batch of Ribollita will make about 10 servings - it is very filling so the serving size is less than for other soups. Traditional Ribollita has cabbage, but I use spinach instead - feel free to use whatever you prefer.
You will need:
4 cups of Stock - see previously posted recipe - if possible add a Parmesan Rind when making your stock
A good quality Tuscan Bread (Whole Foods) - either a day old, or thickly sliced and left out to get stale
1 cup Frozen Spinach - Thawed and Squeezed Out
1 cup Carrots
1 cup Onion
1 cup Celery
1 can cannelloni beans, drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Parmesan
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft (about 3 minutes). Then add the carrot, celery, salt and pepper and saute for another 3 minutes.
Add the tomato, beans, spinach, and oregano. Stir.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
Add the bread. The bread should be diced into 2 inch chunks. Then add the Parmesan Stir and let boil slowly for another 10-15 minutes. Stir every few minutes until the bread dissolves into the soup.
Traditionally Ribollita is served with olive oil poured in the shape of the letter "C" on top, and no cheese. I however, do not pour olive oil on top and I do sprinkle Parmesan over the soup. Please don't tell the Italians.