RIBOLLITA | TUSCAN “REBOILED” SOUP
Ribollita translates to “reboiled” and refers to the traditional way of making this soup: by reboiling leftover bean and vegetable soup, adding leftover (stale) bread that soaks up the soup for a thick, filling stew. Like so many classic dishes with humble beginnings, different vegetables can easily be substituted to your liking or seasonal availability.
Makes 8-10 servings
1 lb white cannellini beans, dried (or 4 15-oz cans)
3/4 cup olive oil
3-4 sticks celery
1 small bunch basil
1 small (or half a large) cabbage
5-6 leaves cavolo nero (lacinato or dinosaur kale)
3 cups green beans
3 cups peas
1 bunch spinach
2 cups tomato puree (crushed tomatoes)
1/2 tube (approx. 1/4 cup) tomato paste
8 cups warmed water
1/2 loaf of stale crusty bread (about 500 grams or 1 lb)
Optional: chopped green onions/scallions, to taste
If using dried beans, soak them in a bowl of water overnight. Then, discard the soaking liquid and cook beans in 8 cups of fresh water for about an hour, or until soft. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
If using canned beans, drain them while reserving some of the canning liquid.
Roughly chop all vegetables. Meanwhile, heat 8 cups of water or broth.
Warm the olive oil in a very large soup pot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and basil, and sauté. Then add all the other vegetables, and heat continuously over medium to low flame. Add the tomato sauce, tomato puree, hot water/broth, and most of the drained white beans. Stir well.
Puree the remaining white beans in some of their own cooking (or canning) liquid, then add this bean paste to the soup pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour on low flame. The soup should be dense, but you may need or want to add more water if it’s seems too thick.
When ready to serve, cut bread into thin slices and toast. In individual soup bowls, place a piece of bread on the bottom and cover it with a layer of the soup, and repeat until the bowl is full. Let the bread soak up the soup for a few minutes, and then enjoy!
Optional: Top with finely chopped green onion or scallions.