One of my favorite Italian dishes is the ribollita at Il Latini in Florence. After seeing a ribollita pop up on my Instagram feed from The Fare Trade, I started to crave it. Luckily, lacinato kale (cavolo nero, used in ribollita) was in stock at Whole Foods and my fiance graciously helped me chop vegetables while we listened to How I Met Your Mother reruns. I found a lot of recipes (ranging from 101 Cookbooks to various Tuscan tourism organizations), and chose this one by Mark Bittman. My comments are in italics.
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped [used 2]
1 celery stalk, chopped [used 2]
1 tablespoon minced garlic [used 2]
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans [used 2 cans]
1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes [used 1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes]
4 small yellow potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 fresh rosemary sprig [chopped up the leaves and left it in]
1 fresh thyme sprig [chopped up the leaves and left it in]
1 pound chopped kale or escarole [used lacinato kale]
4 large, thick slices whole-grain bread, toasted [used cubes of a loaf of Whole Foods whole-grain bread]
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan [used Costco parmigiano reggiano]
1. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. [I actually waited to heat the oven until the soup had already simmered for 20 minutes, because I wanted the potatoes to cook through.] Drain the beans; if they’re canned, rinse them as well. Add them to the pot along with tomatoes [and potatoes] and their juices and stock, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the soup bubbles steadily; cover and cook, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes, until the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Fish out and discard rosemary and thyme stems, if you like, [left these in because they were off the stems] and stir in kale. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lay bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the top and overlap as little as possible. Scatter red onion slices over the top, drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
4.Put the pot in the oven and bake until the bread, onions and cheese are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. (If your pot fits under the broiler, you can also brown the top there.) Divide the soup and bread among 4 bowls and serve. [We ate two bowls with a bit more parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on top, and there was a lot left over].
Overall, I loved the heartiness of this soup. The fresh thyme and rosemary as well as the San Marzano tomatoes make a difference! I’m interested in trying other variations, which include things like black olives, leeks, parsley, Savoy cabbage, Swiss chard, borlotti beans, and a Parmesan rind.
P.S. When I went a-googlin’ for Il Latini, lo and behold, there was a recipe:
“Ingredients: Tuscan kale, savoy cabbage, beet, olive oil, leek, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, red onion, white beans, parsley, basil, whole wheat bread, ripe tomatoes
Fries of olive oil and leek.
Add the ripe tomatoes preserved if possible.
Then add the vegetables, that before you have cut in cubes.
Add the white beans with their water.
When the vegetable soup is ready, cover it with the bread slices; add olive oil and let boil.”