I love soup in the Winter. And I love this Ribollita Soup. It's easy to make, but it does take a lot of chopping. So I make it when I know the weather will keep me inside for a few hours, like today. The weather station is calling for a light snow for most of the day, not accumulating to a heck of a lot, but enough to make the roads slick. So, I'll make the best of it ~
I first had this soup at a little Italian Restaurant in the North End, Antico Forno. This isn't their recipe, but it comes close for me. I read and tried lots of variations of this recipe. Some regions of Italy use bread in the soup, this one does not. I like to thicken it with potato, which when diced really small so it disappears into the base of the soup when it's finished.
I have to say, I am very happy with the outcome of this dish. Like most Italian soups, it's fabulous.
1/4 lb. smoked bacon, diced
2 onions, sliced thinly
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium potatoes (yukon gold), diced finely (1/4 " inch thick)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can of ground tomatoes (I use Pastene)
1 15 ounce can of small white beans, drained
1 whole bunch of kale, washed and chopped
1/2 large head of savoy cabbage, chopped
6 cups of good chicken stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling
Into a large dutch oven on medium heat, add oil and when it's hot, add bacon. Saute bacon on low heat, until it's golden brown, remove and set aside. Add onions, carrots, celery. Saute on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add garlic, potatoes, reserved cooked bacon, salt and pepper. Stir. Cook for a couple of minutes and stir. Add tomatoes and chicken stock and turn heat up to medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. Add chopped kale and cabbage. If you can't find savoy, just use any cabbage, except a red cabbage. Place lid on the soup, but don't seal it. Let simmer for another 15 minutes and add your drained beans. Give every thing a stir and adjust your seasoning. I like it a little kick in my soup, so I add a little extra pepper, both black and red.
Let soup simmer for about 10 minutes longer, turn off heat and let sit for a bit. At this point, I take my immersion blender and blend the soup so it's very chunky, not smooth. And this step is up to you. You don't have to thicken this soup at all, it's really thick enough. But, I for one, like when soup is easy to eat, not just delicous. So I blend it a bit.
Serve hot with a big sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Oh, just so you get an idea of how you would like to eat this soup. Here's a picture of it unblended and then again, once I have blended it a bit.