Ribollita: Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup
Last night I had the urge to make something a bit fall-ish. It still feels like summer here, but autumn is approaching and that always gets me in the mood for a good soup. I haven't cooked anything from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals 2 in a while, and when I perused it for ideas I was excited to try her Ribollita Bread Soup.
Ribollita is a very traditional Tuscan dish. Ribollita means “reboiled.” In doing some research, I found that an authentic ribollita often takes 3 days to prepare. On the first day, minestrone is made and eaten. On the second day, any leftover soup is layered with bread and thin slices of red onion and baked. On the third day, the leftovers are reboiled for the ribollita.
Since I was working from the cookbook of Miss 30-Minute Meals herself, my version certainly didn't take 3 days to prepare. I came in at about 40 minutes and was very pleased with the result. This soup is full of fresh vegetable flavor and has such a nice mix of soft texture (from the beans and the bread) and slight crunch (from the celery and carrots). It feels hearty and satisfying without being too heavy or fattening. Really, really good and it does have the essence of the kinds of food you eat when you're in Tuscany. I will definitely make it again. I'm thinking it'll be a perfect lunch the next time my parents are in town...I think this is something that would be right up their alley.
Recipe from 30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachael Ray
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cans (15 ounces each) small while beans (cannellini beans)
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups tomato sauce
3 cups stale, chewy Italian bread, crust removed and bread torn into pieces
1 small white onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped, for garnish
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Heat a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over moderate heat. Add oil, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and saute until veggies begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add beans, stock, and tomato sauce. Cover pot and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove lid and stir in torn stale bread. Continue stirring to incorporate bread as it breaks down. When soup becomes thick and bread is distributed evenly, adjust your seasonings and serve the soup in shallow bowls.
Top shallow bowlfuls of soup with raw onion, a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of cheese. See photo at top of this post for how my finished product came out.
Note: I used asiago cheese instead of parmigiano reggiano because I happened to have it in the house. It was delicious that way too.