I came back from vacation last week and found my fridge bloated with with some on-the-edge vegetables and miscellany. Being the ever-resourceful cook that I am, I was on the hunt for a recipe to make use of them before my boyfriend emptied the entire contents of our fridge into the trash bin - (I'm a firm believer that pretty much anything can be made into a soup or stew with a few additional flourishes.) After thumbing through the beautiful cookbook, Dinner at the Long Table from famed New York restauranteurs, Anna Dunn and Andrew Tarlow, this ribollita was calling to me.
Ribollita translates to "re-boiled" in Italian. It's a hearty, warming Tuscan soup with endless variations. The key components are veggies, tomatoes, beans, greens, and day-old bread, but every Italian family throws in a little something different. Dunn and Tarlow's version is pretty stellar as is, but I added a little fennel and Italian sausage that I had lying around, and I don't think you'd regret doing the same.
The key to this soup is cooking it for a really long time. The flavors deepen the longer you let it simmer. Dunn and Tarlow suggest that you cook it until the soup takes on a deep rust color and the tomatoes and greens lose their bright hue. You're going for stewy rather than soupy. Spoon it over crispy bread and wash it down with a crunchy, medium bodied red wine like this one.
slightly adapted from Anna Dunn + Andrew Tarlow's Dinner at the Long Table
- Olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 6 ribs celery, diced
- 1 large fennel bulb, diced
- 1 bunch parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
- 1 small head savoy cabbage, chopped
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 pound beans, cooked - any will do, but Cannellini are my go-to
- 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, torn into 1 inch pieces and toasted
In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (like this beauty from Crane), warm the olive oil and add the onions, garlic, and a good amount of salt. Sauté over high heat until the onions start to release their liquid - about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, sausage, and a pinch of salt, lower the heat to medium, and continue to cook. If the vegetables start to look dry, add a little more olive oil. Stir frequently to make sure the vegetables don't stick to the bottom of the pot. After about half an hour, they should have softened a bit and be just starting to turn a little golden. Add the parsley and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the two cans of tomatoes and their juices - crushing them with your hands. Add another large pinch of salt and let the vegetables and tomatoes cook for another 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cabbage and kale to the pot along with a tomato can's worth of water. Stir and cook for another 30 minutes.
Add three-quarters of the beans, along with their liquid, to the soup. Puree the remaining beans to form a thick slurry and add to the pot. Stir until well combined, then add 4 cups of water or broth to the pot. Simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. The flavors will deepen the longer it cooks. Check the seasoning and give it a little salt if necessary.
Stir in the toasted bread. Let it absorb the liquid and start to fall apart - about 5 minutes. Serve in your fave East Fork bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and thick curls of parmesan cheese.
What's your favorite one-pot, one-bowl meal?
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