Ribollita – Tuscan vegetable and bread soup
Have on hand
3 slices smoked and cured bacon, cut into ¼ inch strips-about
1 small yellow onion, small dice – 1 cup
5 cloves garlic, chopped – 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped – 2 cups
1 medium fennel bulb, diced – 2 cups
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice, fire roasted if possible
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1 quart chicken stock
Kosher salt, to taste
1 bunch kale, thick stems discarded, chopped – 4 packed cups
5 slices bread, seasoned, drizzled with olive oil, and toasted
Parmigiano-Reggiano, not the pre-grated stuff
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, as needed
In a cold pot, combine the bacon with the onions. Turn on the heat to medium, and stirring occasionally, cook until the bacon browns and the onions become translucent, 7 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes, carrots, fennel, plus a few good grinds of pepper, and continue cooking for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now add the beans, tomatoes, fresh thyme, stock, and ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt. Lastly stir in the kale. Increase the heat to high, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat until a slow simmer is achieved.
Cook for 30 minutes. Season to taste. Now at this point you may either go classic and add the bread to the soup, and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the bread thickens the soup, or simply serve the soup with a crostini on top, so that the soup begins to soften the bread. Or, do as I do, and serve the soup separately, with the crostini on the side. Dip the crisp bread as you choose. Either way, it’s all good! Using a vegetable peeler, serve with a few fresh shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano, with a good drizzle of oil to finish.
Yield: 10 cups