Tuscan bread and vegetable soup
Ribollita literally means “re-boiled”. It is a very ancient recipe, since some sources date it to the Middle Ages, when servants in the castles used to gather up food-soaked bread trenchers from the banquets of their lords and boiled them again for their own dinners.
Today, ribollita means a lot to Tuscan people: it’s a hot soup for the cold falls and winters and, above all, it means tradition. It’s wonderful how Tuscan peasant cooking has become a symbol for history in a modern shape.
Ingredients (serves 6):
• 300 g 2 day old Tuscanstyle bread, finely sliced
• 300 g dried cannellini beans
• 2 bunches blackleaf kale, remove the thick part of the stalk and slice thinly
• 1⁄2 a savoy cabbage, remove the hard bottom part of the core and slice thinly
• 1 bunch silver beet, remove the thick part of the stalk and slice thinly
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• 1 tbs of tomato concentrate, diluted in a little warm water
• 2 celery stalks, sliced
• 2 carrots, halved and sliced
• 2 potatoes, halved and sliced
• 8 tbs extra virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper
Put the cannellini beans in a pot. Add 1.5 L of water, 2 tbs of olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, a couple of sage leaves, salt and a few peppercorns. Cover with a lid and place over a very low flame. The water must simmer gently and not boil. The beans will take 2 to 3 hours to cook. With a slotted spoon take out 1⁄4 of the beans and puree the rest. Sautè the garlic and onion in a pot and when the onion softens, add the tomato concentrate. Add all the vegetables except the whole beans and cook for a few minutes. Then add the pureed beans and cook until all the vegetables are soft (around 45
minutes). Add the whole beans, bread, salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for a further 5 minutes then cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of extravirgin olive oil and make sure there is freshly ground pepper on the table. This soup is even better if it is reheated the next day ribollita (which means ‘reboiled’) gets its name from the fact that it is reboiled and improves with each heating.