I came home from a trip to Tuscany with a yen for ribollita. It was there on many menus, but I never ordered it (even I could only eat the proverbial ‘so much’)…although I did get a taste when someone at the table ordered it. But that’s just not as satisfying as having a whole bowl (or 2) all to yourself.
So, once I got home, it didn’t take me long to make some. Heck, I wasn’t even home 2 days – truth be told, I hadn’t even finished unpacking, but I had an irresistible urge to make a pot of ribollita and that takes precedence. Right?
Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup, a hearty potage made with bread and vegetables. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, beans, silverbeet, cavolo nero, and onion. Its name literally means “reboiled”. Wikipedia
I looked at a couple of recipes online to get an idea of traditional ingredients — and then just did it my way. The result was excellent…tasty, comforting and satisfying.
Fennel + Rapini Ribollita
- 1 small bunch rapini (broccoli rabe) chopped
- ½ large fennel bulb chopped (reserve fronds)
- ½ large leek sliced in ringlets
- 4 large plum tomatoes chopped
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 small zucchini chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- handful of parsley roughly chopped
- 1 sprig of rosemary whole (remove before blending)
- 6 baby bella mushrooms chopped
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 32 ozs. chicken broth
- dry seasonings (salt, chili flakes, fennel seed, star anise, oregano - that's my blend)
- sliced Italian bread
- grated cheese (parmesan - I prefer reggiano)
- olive oil (regular and extra virgin)
- Optional: small amount of some cut of pork. I used a boneless pork chop (cooked + diced) that was leftover from the night before. Or keep it strictly vegetarian.
- Saute leek, garlic and pork in olive oil.
- Add fennel, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms and saute till softened.
- Add dry seasonings to taste.
- Add broth and bring to a boil.
- Add rapini, cover and lower heat.
- Cook for 45 minutes.
- Use immersion blender to break down and lightly puree vegetables.
- Add beans and cook for additional 15 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings.
- Place toasted bread in bowl, then ladle soup.
1. Drizzle extra virgin oil (the Italians seem to finish all their meals with a drizzle).
2. Dress the soup with fennel fronds and fresh parsley.
3. Add generous grating of parmesan cheese and fresh grating of black pepper.
Note: Make it early in the day (if you can) and let it sit for even deeper flavor.
NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for.
A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!