Ok, let’s get this straight…I did not invent this soup. I shamelessly downloaded a link that was mentioned on a wonderful wine blog written by a friend of mine, Laura Uncorked, and then made some not so discrete changes. (There’s a link to Ms Uncorkced’s blog in the margin to the right.)
But, to be truthful, nobody invented ribollita, or nobody whose name is ever mentioned in the annals of history. Legend has it that serfs reboiled (rebollita) the bread trenchers left over from the nobles’ feasts, adding veggies and broth. But, not much evolved clearly from the mist of medieval history. Weren’t those the folks who thought the sun revolved around the earth and had the Inquisition make Galileo Galilei swear to it? I suspect waterboarding was not the issue it is today and fact and fiction were held in equally high esteem.
One thing for sure, this soup will fill your guests' stomach cavities, every one. Want to add an interesting white wine? Check Ms Uncorked’s blog, or pop the top on one of my favorites, a gewürztraminer, and let your tantalized tongue tingle.
Disclaimer!!! What does it mean when I say this is MY version? It means I DID NOT USE TRENCHERS FROM THE NOBLES’ MEALS. Nor did I make Galileo swear to anything.
Since every Italian mother, son, daughter-in-law, and street vendor has his/her/its own version of rebollita, I high-fived culinary tradition and unabashedly joined the rebollita conga line.
Ribollita – I did it my way
Serves 8 or more, so use a big pot.
These are the ingredients, but you really can’t go wrong. Don’t have something? Substitute something else. That’s what the peasants did when the nobles weren’t looking.
2 15 oz cans cannellini or great northern beans, undrained
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta or smoked lean bacon (if you must)
1 lb chopped pork – I use the lean, stir-fry strips, but chop them
2 onions, well chopped
1 Cup carrots, well chopped
1 Cup chopped celery
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground or coarse ground
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can plumb tomatoes, drained well and tomatoes chopped
1 package frozen leaf spinach, thawed
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 Cups chicken broth
4 Cups sourdough bread, cubed (one small, round loaf should do the trick)
Puttin’ it together…
Drizzle the oil in a large pot and add the onion, garlic and pancetta. Cook until the onion is wilted. Add the chopped pork, and all the vegetables except the beans and tomatoes. Stir well and add all the spices except the basil. Stir. Add the chicken broth.
Do not drain either can of beans, but put the contents of one can in a blender, or food processor and puree it.
Add the whole and pureed beans to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes to fully cook the vegetables and allow the flavors to blend.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cubes of sourdough bread. Stir. Cook another ten minutes.
Sprinkle basil and Parmesan cheese over individual bowls.
Make this recipe a day or two ahead if you wish.
You’re going to feel so Italian you’ll find yourself waving your hands, talking loudly, and reaching for more wine. Keep a bottle handy.