Ribollita

Our kitchen garden Tuscan kale

From the garden: parsley, celery, carrots, cavolo nero

Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Ruth Rogers in The River Café Cookbook

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Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup. Like a lot of European cooking, the soup has peasant origins. It was originally made by reheating (ie. reboiling = ribollita) the leftovers from the previous day. Some sources date it back to the Middle Ages, when the servants gathered up food-soaked bread trenchers from feudal lords’ banquets and boiled them for their own dinners.

Equipment:

  • Colander
  • Medium saucepan
  • Chopping board & small knife
  • Large heavy-based saucepan
  • Salad spinner, colander
  • Potato peeler
  • Garlic press, fork
  • Measures: tablespoon
  • Wooden spoon
  • Serving bowls
  • Ladle
Ingredients:

  • 125g dried cannellini or borlotti beans
  • 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 red onions
  • Small branch sage (about 10 leaves)
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 head celery, 2 carrots
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1kg cavolo nero
  • ½ loaf stale ciabatta bread
  • Flaked salt & black pepper

What to do:

  • The night before, place your dried beans in a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water and the bicarb.
  • The next day, rinse and drain the beans, then put them into the medium saucepan with about 3cm cold water to cover. Add 3 garlic cloves, a branch of sage, a teaspoon of salt & grind of pepper. Set on a medium heat and simmer until beans are soft – could be anything from 20 minutes to an hour.
  • Meanwhile, wash and spin dry the parsley and chop finely.
  • Wash and shake the celery dry then chop stalks and leaves into thin strips.
  • Wash and peel the carrots, chop into small pieces.
  • Peel and chop the onions into small dice.
  • Peel and squeeze the garlic cloves through the press.
  • Heat the oil in the large saucepan and fry the parsley, garlic, celery, carrot and onion together for about 10 minutes until the flavours combine.
  • Add the tomatoes and continue to cook on a gentle heat for a further 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile wash the cavolo nero, remove the stalks and coarsely chop the leaves. Add them to the pan. Stir in half of the beans with enough of their liquid to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Carefully cut the crusts from the loaf with a breadknife and tear the bread into pieces.
  • Mash the remaining beans with the back of the fork and return to the soup with just enough boiling water to make the soup liquid. Add the bread, a generous amount of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. As exact amounts are not possible, you must balance the amount of liquid to bread so that soup is very thick. Ladle out into your bowls.

Notes: Why do we soak the beans overnight? What does cavolo nero mean? What are other names for cavolo nero? What other soup names do you know?

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