Thursday, August 23, 2018

RECIPE: Ribolitta - Tuscan Kale and Bean Soup

We tasted ribolitta for the first time many years ago on a trip to Florence, Italy and were immediately smitten!  Since then, I've been making Paula Wolfert's recipe in Mediterranean Grains and Greens.  But, today, I decided to change things up a little and combined it with Sally Cameron's recipe from her blog, A Food Centric Life. The photo below is from Sally's blog, until I can take one of my own.

Sally's photos of Sienna, and her description of the ubiquitous Ribolitta, are worth reading. You can follow her directions for cooking the beans from scratch if you're up for it.  I use Eden Foods canned cannellini beans. 

Ribolitta is usually made the day before and then reheated because the flavors improve overnight.  It is also, usually, served over stale bread with the bread thickening the soup.  I prefer to skip the bread so I make the soup fairly thick.  If you eat the bread, add a little water.  

This recipe makes a lot - 12 servings - so I can freeze some for later.

Ribolitta - Tuscan Kale and Bean Soup
Sally Cameron's Ribolitta
Serves 12 (makes 8-10 quarts)
1 pound bacon (or 6 oz pancetta), sliced into 1/8" julienne
1/2 c. ghee
4 cups diced onion (I use the food processor to dice them)
8 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 c. carrots, quartered lengthwise and then  sliced 1/4" thick (I used yellow and purple carrots)
2 c. diced celery
(optional: 1 c. diced fennel - I did not use this but it sounds like it would be good)
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
5-6 t. salt or to taste
1 18oz jar tomato sauce
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, quartered and each quarter julienned
2 c. chopped kale (or 1 pint home- canned kale)
1 c. fresh basil, julienned
3 bay leaves
4 c. broth (I used veal)
1/8 t. each of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves

For serving:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
grated Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread

In a large pot (I use an 8-quart stock pot) over medium heat cook the bacon in the ghee until it releases its fat.  Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent.  

Add the garlic, carrots, celery, cabbage, (fennel if using), salt, and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, 7-10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, kale, basil, bay leaf and half the broth.  Simmer another 7-10 minutes.

Open the canned beans and rinse ONE can.  Drain and add to the pan.  

Using an immersion blender, without draining the can, puree ONE can of beans and add it to the pan.
Using the immersion blender, puree HALF of the third can of beans and add the whole can to the pot. In other words, you are pureeing half the beans with the liquid they're packed in.  

Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Add the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

You can eat it now but it will be better if you chill it overnight.  

Reheat on low, and serve over a piece of crusty bread with a dollop of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

* When I use 3 cans of beans, I get 10 quarts of soup; with 2 cans, I get 8 quarts.  It's good both ways, it just depends on whether you like a thicker soup or a greater vegetable:bean ratio.  I don't adjust the other seasoning so using 2 cans will give you a more highly seasoned soup.

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