2.25.2013

Under the Tuscan Sun Ribollita

A few years back, okay more than a few but less than a decade, my friend Dawn and I attended a Chopping Block cooking class called Under the Tuscan Sun: Food and Wine of Tuscany. The chef prepared a new and exotic (to me) dish called ribollita. We both loved it and have been making it ever since.

Recipe

Traditional ribollita recipes include diced potatoes and adding bread at the end of cooking. I replace potatoes with an extra can of beans and serve the bread on the side, Sally Allbright style.

Beginners, here are some pitfalls to avoid: over/undercooking the veggies, boiling instead of simmering, using pots that are not Le Creuset (or a high quality knock off). Before you begin read the recipe three times and set up the ingredients like you're putting on a cooking show.

Also soups and stews are better the next day so this is a good make ahead dish.

Using a blender or food processor puree:
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth, Imagine or Whole Foods brand
  • 1 16 oz. can Isola canellini beans, drained and rinsed

Set aside.

In large soup pot heat on medium/low heat (depending on pot*) until fragrant and shimmering, not smoking:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

When hot add:
  • 1 large onion, cut into small dice, about 2 cups

Keep the onions sizzling and stir every few minutes. When the onions begin to turn translucent add:
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice, about 1 cup
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice, about 1 cup

Keep it all sizzling and stir every 30-60 seconds. Taste a carrot. When it's cooked and hot but still crunchy add:
  • 1/2 head cabbage, roughly chopped, 4-5 cups
  • 1 bunch kale, well rinsed* and roughly chopped or 4 cups pre-washed baby kale
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, well rinsed* and roughly chopped

Simmer until cabbage and greens are wilted a bit but not totally soft, 2-3 minutes.

Then add:
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Give it a good stir. Turn heat to medium until it simmers then turn it down so you get a nice, slow simmer. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes (until greens are tender).

Add the bean puree and another can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until hot.

Serve with grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

*Extra Tips:
  • If you are using a Le Creuset or pot like it, set heat to medium low. The oil will take 5 or so minutes to heat. Watch closely. You can test by throwing in a chard of onion and if it sizzles loudly it's ready. If oils smokes pitch it, let pan cool and try, try again.
  • Pull leaves away from thick stems before washing and chopping.
  • I use the bowl from my large salad spinner. Submerge greens in water, swish them around, pull the greens out of water and dump them into the colander. Rinse under cool water. If you still see dirt repeat the process. To shorten this step buy pre-washed and chopped mixed hearty greens and/or baby kale.