Spring where are you? Last week there was a warm sunny weather, but now, sadly winter has come back, so I decided to publish this Italian traditional recipe: the ribollita. The ribollita is a traditional soup of Tuscany and is simply delicious. It contains lots of vegetables, the most important is cavolo nero, real king of this soup. The addition of cannellini beans and bread make it a healthy and gorgeous main course.
As most traditional recipes, ribollita has humble origins from a time when it was necessary to cook with what was available in the vegetable plot and with recycled ingredients such as stale bread. Often the soup was prepared once and eaten in the following days after warming it up. It is exactly this process that gives to the ribollita its name and its unique taste. In fact, ribollita means boiled a second time.
A five star ribollita would require a Tuscan bread. Since this type of bread is difficult to find here in England, it can be substituted with a slightly unsalted white bread. Another ingredient which is found in this soup is the chard. We decided to avoid this ingredient to have a stronger flavour of cavolo nero. Finally, it would be best to use dry cannellini beans, but they are also hard to find so, after numerous unsuccessful searches, we used two tins of cooked cannellini beans. (Recipe form “Le Zuppe” by Slow Food Editore.)
Ingredients for 4 persons:
300 g of dry cannellini beans (or 2 tins of cannellini beans)
1 cavolo nero
½ small savoy cabbage
200 g potatoes
2 red onions
1 garlic clove
1 celery stick
4 white bread slices (preferably unsalted tuscan bread)
extra-virgin olive oil
Soak the cannellini beans for 12 hours. Then boil them in water with some celery and parsley until they are tender. In a large pot heat some extra-virgin olive oil and add the sliced red onions, garlic clove and leak and cook for 10 minutes. In the meantime wash and chop in small pieces the potatoes, cavolo nero and savoy cabbage and then add them to the pot. When they start to wilt cover with hot water, add some salt and black pepper and cook on low heat for one hour and a half.
Blend half of the boiled cannellini beans and add them, with the other half and the cooking water to the pan. Stir, bring to the boil and then cook on very low heat for another hour.
After this time pour the soup in a soup bowl (suitable for oven) where you have place a slice of bread on the bottom. You can serve it after a brief rest, to allow to the bread to soften up seasoning with some extra-virgin olive oil. Anyway, the best option is to eat the soup the following day. Warm up the soup in the soup bowl in the oven adding a bit of water if required. Serve with some onion slices and extra-virgin olive oil.