Source: Peter McNee, Poggio Trattoria.
This recipe was demonstrated at CUESA’s Market to Table program on December 12, 2009.
Ribollita is a traditional Florentine day old minestrone soup thickened with dry bread and finished with an olio nuovo or extra virgin olive oil. It should be thick enough to eat with a fork. This dish has become so popular that it is made from scratch instead of from leftover minestrone soup and there are probably as many variations as there are households in Tuscany. The one ingredient most commonly identified with ribollita is cavolo nero, Tuscan black cabbage or dino kale. In Italy, when cavolo nero is available at the mercado, it means it is time to eat ribollita. With any recipe it is important not to get hung up on specific ingredients. When making Ribollita some of the ingredients may change, but the method is always the same: cook with what looks good at the farmers’ market. For example, if you can’t find rutabaga, use parsnip. This dish is perfect for cold weather.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (½-inch cubes)
1 medium turnip with greens, root separated from greens and chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 rutabaga, chopped (½-inch cubes)
3 ribs of celery, chopped roughly into ½-inch chunks
2 onions, chopped roughly into ½-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 branch rosemary, stemmed and leaves roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned tomato with juice, tomatoes roughly chopped
2 ounces prosciutto skin or end piece (ask your butcher for this)
2 bunches cavolo nero (also called Tuscan black cabbage or lacinato kale), stemmed and sliced into thick ribbons
½ head Savoy cabbage, cored and sliced into thick ribbons
½ cup water (to be used throughout the cooking process if vegetables begin to stick to the pan or caramelize)
1 cup chicken stock
1 zucchini, sliced (½-inch chunks)
4 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced (½-inch thick)
1 cup cooked butter beans (with some of their cooking liquid if possible)
1 large loaf dried Italian bread cut into ½-inch slices (dry the bread either by slicing a couple days before you plan to use and leaving out to dry or placing in a very low oven for a few hours)
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a low flame. Add the carrot, turnip, turnip greens, rutabaga, celery, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper (continue to season while cooking). Cover vegetables with a piece of parchment paper set directly on top of the vegetables and continue to cook slowly until they become soft. Add the rosemary and bay leaf and cook another ten minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juice and the prosciutto; continue to cook an additional twenty minutes. Stir in the cavolo nero and Savoy cabbage. Depending on the moisture in the soup at this point you may need to add some of the water or chicken stock to prevent any sticking or burning. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the zucchini, potato, butter beans (with liquid) and chicken stock. Simmer until the potatoes begin to fall apart, about another hour to an hour and a half. Taste all the vegetables for doneness and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
- In a large pan or bowl place a single layer of the dried bread slices and ladle the warm soup over the top. Continue with another layer of bread and another layer of soup. Repeat until all the bread and/or soup is used. When the bread has soaked up all the liquid it is ready to eat. Scoop the ribollita into individual bowls and pour a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the top. Don’t be shy; remember this is not a garnish but an essential ingredient in the dish.