Ribollita, Tuscan Vegetable Soup
I am standing here barefoot in my kitchen, wooden spoon in hand, a medley of carrots, leeks and celery simmering in olive oil perfumed in oregano, preparing a vegetable soup “absolution” for a most marvelous and decadent Thanksgiving weekend! No culinary stone was left unturned from the opening festive Wednesday night “South Carolina-style” shrimp boil to an all-out turkey extravaganza, cornbread dressing, macaroni and cheese casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potato soufflé, pecan pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie included! What could be a better penance than an authentic Tuscan Ribollita soup. Every Italian Nonna knows this recipe by heart. I assure you this marvelous vegetable and white bean soup is a crowd-pleaser, freezes well, and one to ear-mark for the coming chill of Winter!
Ribollita, Rustic Italian soup with beans, greens, bread and Parmesan
12-14 cups vegetable or chicken Stock (Homemade stock is best, but not mandatory. I have been moved into the camp of homemade stock, especially if you can freeze batches in advance. Not only is it healthier, but it enhances any recipe! See note at the end for my quick and easy vegetable stock)
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
1 extra large yellow onion, diced
2 leeks (washed and trimmed)
1 bulb of fennel, chopped
2 28 oz cans of Whole tomatoes (you have to cut up the tomatoes once in the pot) An Italian chef once told me to always use the canned whole tomatoes because you always know what you are getting.
4 cups of white cannellini beans (soak the night before and cook separately with a bay leaf or in a pinch, use organic canned beans, rinsed.)
1 cup French Le Puy lentils
1 cup shredded Savoy cabbage
4-5 cups coarsely chopped kale
2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, another cup to garnish bowls before serving
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup of shredded Parmesan, another cup to garnish bowls before serving
2 cups sour dough bread cubes, no hard crusts
1 Tbs. oregano
1 Tbs. thyme
(or Herbes de Provence)
good olive oil
1 tsp. red pepper
1 Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Saute your mirepoix of onion, leeks, carrots, celery, fennel with generous olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper until soft. Add Parmesan rind, 2 cans of tomatoes, 12 cups of stock, lentils. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Once the lentils are soft, toss in your greens. Turn off heat and stir. Blend half the white beans with a little stock and swirl of olive oil and fold into the soup with remaining beans. Stir in your cubes of sourdough. Or, if you prefer, top soup with homemade sourdough croutons.
Pour half of Parmesan in and stir. Reserve the rest of the cheese and basil to garnish the soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
The soup gets even better the next day!!
Accompany with a simple green salad (arugula) with shavings of Parmesan (use a vegetable peeler), olive oil, juice from 1 lemon and Kosher salt.
Don’t forget the crusty bread and dishes of olive oil for dipping.
A couple Satsuma oranges for dessert and you are absolved and ready for the race to Christmas!
*Vegetable stock: Combine 2 large carrots, celery, leeks, onion, bay leaf, Parmesan rind, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper with water in pot and allow to simmer for at least an hour. Add water as it boils down. Strain rind and vegetables and either use or freeze liquid.
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