Ribollita Soup

Place of origin: Tuscany, Central Italy

Vegetables play an important role in Tuscan cuisine. One of the famous dishes with vegetables in Tuscany is Ribollita. Ribollita means cooked for the second time or reheated. The real secret about stews is they expose the best of its taste on the second day after cooking and this tip works for Ribollita soup as well. In households in the Tuscan countryside, the pan with the soup is kept on the stove for a long time. Until bacon and ham bones are not added to Ribollita, the soup is fully vegetarian style.

Ribollita is rather like minestrone but includes beans instead of pasta. It Italy it is traditionally served ladled over bread and rich green vegetables. Nowadays two different styles of serving are broadly used. The simple method looks like serving the soup immediately after cooking with bread and Parmesan cheese. If you like following the traditional Italian servings, I’d recommend another method. First, slice the bread and put it into the soup is just cooked. Chill it down overnight and then reheat at the next day. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 400g can haricot or bortolli beans, drained (or 250g (1cup) dried white beans);
  • 100g bacon, cut into small pieces;
  • 1 ham bone;
  • 1 small leek, sliced thinly;
  • 1 onion, finely chopped;
  • 2 carrots, finely sliced;
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced;
  • 3 courgettes, thinly sliced;
  • 2 l vegetable or meat stock;
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil;
  • 400 g spinach (or savoy cabbage, or chard), cut into strips;
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes;
  • 2 tablespoon pesto;
  • 1-2 springs of fresh thyme;
  • salt and freshly milled pepper;
  • about 6 slices of stale white bread;
  • parmesan cheese to serve.

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Saute the bacon, onion, leak, carrots, celery and garlic for 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

If using dried beans, soak the beans in plenty of water the night before. Next day bring the beans to a boil in the water in which they have been soaked. Then cook them over a low heat for 1-1.5 hour.

Pour in the meat stock to the vegetables and add the springs of thyme and the ham bone. Cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add the strips of spinach (or other kind of greens) and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the bone and season the soup with salt and pepper. Slice the bread and layer with the soup in a large dish. Serve with Parmesan cheese.