Ribollita: a poor dish with a rich flavour

Ribollita: a poor dish with a rich flavour

Ribollita: a poor dish with a rich flavour

Ribollita is a poor peasants’dish, typical of the Tuscan culinary tradition. The origin of the “minestra di pane” (as it is known in our territory) dates back to the Middle Ages, when the noblemen used to eat their food combined with a large amount of bread. At the end of the meal, the leftovers were given to the servants, who warmed it with their vegetables, getting a real soup of bread and vegetables.

Still today, ribollita is the protagonist of our table, especially in Autumn.

Given the poor origin of the dish, the ingredients are all really simple. Along with bread, the main ingredients of the recipe are seasonal vegetables: black cabbage, cabbage, onions, beets, carrots and beans. Once the vegetable soup is boiled, it is mixed with stale bread. The result will be a mixture of bread and vegetables, which is not apparently too “gourmet”, but with a unique taste.

A mix of Tuscan flavours and colours, ideal either as a main dish or as a tasting for an appetizing starter and, why not, as an aperitif, for those who are more radical-chic.

Recipes of Ribollita (Tuscan Vegetable Soup)
Yield: 8 servings

1 bunch Tuscan kale, cut into 2-inch ribbons
1 head savory cabbage, cut into 2-inch ribbons
1 bunch Swiss chard, cut into 2-inch ribbons
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
2 zucchini, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 leeks (white parts only), sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, half pureed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
Leaves of 1 sprig thyme
Fine sea salt, to taste
1 to 2 cups (2-inch) cubes stale bread

Place the olive oil, leeks, and garlic in a large pot over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks and garlic are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and zucchini and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 more minutes. At this stage, add the kale, cabbage, and chard, and cook – always stirring! – until the greens are very soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes.

Add the tomatoes and their juice, squeezing the tomatoes between your fingers to break them up. Add 2 quarts of water, the bay leaf, the thyme, and all of the beans. Season to taste with salt.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Add the bread cubes to the soup, and simmer until the bread is breaking apart and the soup is very thick, about 10 minutes. Let the soup rest off the heat for several minutes, and then ladle into warmed bowls. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over each portion before serving.

Thanks to EatItaly.