Tuscany on a plate*
Lovingly known as “mangiafagioli” (roughly translated to bean-eaters), Tuscans love their white beans. And many other fresh or dried beans, really. So much so that they use them in a large variety of dishes all year round. Cavolo nero (a species of kale) is also one of their favourite ingredient. Ribollita gracefully marries those two staple Tuscan ingredients, making it a legend in the culinary world. It is a simple dish, that only requires a handful of ingredients – and I believe that this makes it even more special. It is also another great way of using stale bread – just as it is the case of Panzanella or other typical Tuscan dishes.
Ribollita (meaning re-boiled) is what you would call a thick soup, that can easily be considered a main course due to its rich consistency. I especially love it in the autumn, when I am craving for comfort food, and spending my evenings thinking about glorious holidays on the sunny Tuscan Riviera. Ribollita is best served hot, with a bit of extravirgin olive oil on top. A handful of grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese also works well, although this option is not suitable for vegetarians. I like making enough Ribollita to last for two days. After a night in the fridge, the flavours have time to get together and this makes the soup even tastier.
- 20 ml olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 spring of fresh rosemary
- 200 grams fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (double concentrate)
- 1 can of Cannellini beans
- 3-4 slices of stale bread, roughly cut in cubes
- 1 bunch of cavolo nero, chopped
- Maldon salt
- Heat the oil in a deep pan on medium heat.
- Add the garlic and onions, a pinch of salt, and leave them to soften. Then add the carrots, celery, bay leaves and rosemary, and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes, the tomato concentrate, the Cannellini beans and about 450 ml of water. Leave to cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes.
- Add the bread and the cavolo nero and allow to cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Before serving, discard the bay leaves and the rosemary spring.
- Serve hot, in large serving bowls.