During these last cold, damp days of winter, I like to make a bubbling pot of homemade soup over the weekend. One of my favorites, is the Italian soup ribollita. This is the easy-to-prepare Tuscan vegetable soup finished with bread cubes and grated cheese. Perfect for chasing the chill.
While in Italy last February, I think I savored a steaming bowl of ribollita either at lunch or dinner every day. That was my introduction and it’s been part of our menus ever since. Make a pot and discover why.
I’m guessing this soup came about when a frugal Italian cook decided to use up day-old bread and the rinds from cheese. Everything went into the pot to stretch the meal and feed more hungry mouths.
This is Ina Garten’s recipe (FoodNetwork.Com). I’ve made some notes at the end of my own additions or twists. This is the kind of soup that allows for substitutions and changes. Nothing fancy. Just delish. Buon appetito!
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
1/4 pound large diced pancetta or smoked bacon
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
3 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage, optional
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
1. OK, I skip those dried beans and go for the canned cannellini. So much faster.
2. Hard to believe, but I skip the pancetta or bacon. Mine is a pure vegetable soup. No meat.
3. I add brocollini to the veg list.
4. I also add the breadcrumbs/cubes (I’m not that precise. Again, this is a forgiving soup) and the cheese to the pot with about 30-45 minutes to go. I like everything blended in the soup. Then, sprinkle more cheese on top for serving.
5. I’ve also been known to pour in about 1/4 C of white wine for additional liquid. Then, let the alcohol boil off.