The Healthy Librarian's Ribollita (based on Martha Rose Shulman's recipe)
Prep time: Two hours--30 minutes of actual work, 1 1/2 hours of watching the soup boil.
Be sure to make this on a day when you're hanging around the house for the afternoon.
Big Tip: Read through the whole recipe before getting started!
6 ounces (1 cup) white or borlotti(?) beans, soaked, if desired, for four hours and then drained (can do this the night before) I soaked mine.
2 medium to large (not giant) onions - one cut in half to boil with the beans, as they precook. One chopped to saute separately with the vegetables
3 large garlic cloves, 1 crushed, the rest minced (the minced one is added to the beans as they precook. The chopped ones are sauteed separately with the vegetables.
Salt to taste (I didn't use any, not even a sprinkling!)
2 large carrots, diced
1 celery rib, diced
Pinch of red chili flakes (I used more, maybe 1/2 tsp)
1/4 Savoy or green cabbage, cored and shredded (2 cups shredded)
2 14-ounce cans (or 1 28-ounce can) of chopped or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes with juice (note: I used Muir Glen Fire-Roasted tomatoes--1 can was plain & the other one had Green Chilis (it was all I had, but I recommend it--it added a wonderful flavor)
3/4 pound (1 bunch) Swiss chard, kale or a mixture, stemmed, cleaned and chopped or cut in chiffonade (3 cups chopped greens) I used chard.
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a few sprigs each thyme and parsley (note: I didn't make the "bouquet garni". I just threw in 1 bay leaf, but be sure to remove it before blending the soup, some chopped parsley, a few shakes of dried thyme)
6 thick slices of country bread, whole-grain (about 6 ounces)
1. Place the beans in a medium saucepan, and add 4 cups low or no-sodium vegetable broth, the halved onion and crushed garlic clove. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 1 hour. Remove the onion halves, cool, chop, and reserve for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust seasonings.
2. As the beans cook, heat up a heavy soup pot, and add the (other) chopped raw onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add a few tablespoons of broth to the pot if the vegetables start to stick, or get too dry, deglazing the pot. Add the garlic and chili flakes, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage wilts, three to five minutes. Add the canned tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes cook down a bit and smell fragrant, five to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt-I didn't add any!
3. Stir in the cooked beans and their liquid, add the bouquet garni (or just the bay leaf, parsley & thyme), 1/2 cup of water, the reserved chopped onion that cooked with the beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes or less, until the beans are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Now, add the greens, raise the heat and simmer covered for another 15 minutes. The greens should be falling apart in the soup. Remove the bouquet garni--or the bay leaf.
4. Meanwhile, while the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the bread slices on the rack, and toast until dry but not browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Break up into pieces. Remove about 2 cups of the soup and set aside--this will be added back at the end, after the rest of the soup is blended--to give some texture to the soup. Add the toasted bread to the soup pot. Submerge in the soup, and remove the soup from the heat. Let stand for 20 minutes until the bread is soft. Now you have a choice in how you want to blend the soup & bread mixture. You can blend it with a hand immersion blender, the pulse action of a food processor, or on a slow blend with your Vita-Mix. You want the consistency to be like that of oatmeal. I used my Vita-Mix. Once the soup is blended, you can add back the 2 cups of "unblended soup" you set aside, and heat through. The ribollita should have the consistency of oatmeal. Dilute with water as necessary. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Spoon the ribollita into bowls.
Note: You can make ribollita with 5 to 6 cups of any type of leftover minestrone using the bread proportions above.
Yield: Serves 6
Advance preparation: Ribollita will stiffen up considerably if you make it too far in advance. If you do so, thin it out as desired with water or stock.
Martha Rose Shulman's
Ribollita ala Healthy Librarian
Serving Size: 1 serving
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