I wanted to make this on Sunday afternoon… It’s the perfect time for the amount of chopping and primping and attention a big pot demands… I can take my time, nibble a few snacks… (Possibly find some helpers…)
But I was blindsided by hungry college-age meat-eaters who happened to spot several big steaks in my freezer! (These are the same offspring who have new perspective on the phrase, “there is never anything to eat around here”, because at their houses there really isn’t!) Did I capitulate? Of course I did!
So I soaked my beans and prepared for battle on a weekday! This dish is a thick and warming stew, made with lots of greens, lots of beans and lots of vegetables. It is thickened with chunks of crusty bread and is EVEN BETTER the next day, hence the name “ribollita,” meaning “reboiled.”
And hence my desire to make it on a Sunday afternoon and send quarts of it out the door with my children… It smells absolutely wonderful, and approaches pure heaven sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and given a swirl of olive oil!
½ pound dried cannellini beans
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
¼ pound smoked bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped savoy cabbage
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 teaspoon dried basil
6 cups organic low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crust removed
½ cup grated Parmesan, for serving
In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1 inch and cover. Soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 more minutes until the beans are tender. Set them aside to cool in their liquid.
Over medium heat, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the bacon and onions and cook 7-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Add the tomatoes and their puree, the cabbage, the kale and the basil. Cook, stirring occasionally another 7-10 minutes.
Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. In a food processor puree half of the beans with some of their liquid. Add to the pot, along with the remaining whole beans.
Pour the bean liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough broth to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Add the bread. Simmer 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve immediately in bowls sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and drizzled with olive oil.
Cool and refrigerate. Serve reheated, or “ribollita” the next day!