Ribollita Bean Soup - Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup Recipe
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Known in Italy as
bean soup, this hearty stew-like Tuscan specialty is traditionally made several days in advance. It is then reheated and served over crusty bread as a satisfying and complete meal.
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30 ounces Cannelini beans
2/3 cup white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, ham, or prosciutto sliced thinly
9 cups water
1 sprig Rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 small fresh chile pepper or 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
4 slices crusty bread - baguette or French loaf - slice wide
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup leeks, sliced into thin rings - 2 medium - more if desired
1 Belgian endive - cut off 1
5 1/2 ounces Swiss chard - cut into narrow strips
2/3 cup celery, diced
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated and divided
:Medium mixing bowl, soup pot, frying pan,
Ribollita soup is typically made with a Minestrone soup base consisting of leftovers combined together, such as various vegetables (spinach, kale, cabbage, and zucchini). When preparing this soup, meats such as pancetta, prosciutto, ham, or salami may also be used to add a meaty and a rich flavor to the soup. Use a piece of ham, a ham bone, or a piece of pancetta, or a piece of prosciutto cut into thin slices to provide a rich meaty flavor. If a ham bone is used, cook it with the soup. Prior to cooking in the oven, remove the ham bone and cut off any meat on the bone, returning it to the soup. If more meat is desired, add cubes or thin slices of ham, pancetta, or prosciutto.
Allow soup to stand for 4 hours in the refrigerator after being prepared to blend the flavors. It can then be reheated (reboiled) and served.
Place half (2 tablespoons) of the olive oil in a large cooking pan with the garlic and onion. Saute the ingredients but be careful not to let them become overly browned. Place the meat and the beans in the cooking pan. Add the 9 cups of water and bring to a boil. If more broth is desired, add more water. As the water boils, reduce the heat adding the thyme, the sprigs of rosemeary and the fresh chile pepper. 1/2 tsp of dried red pepper flakes can be substituted for the fresh pepper if desired and season to taste. Cover and simmer the ingredients for approximately 1 hour. Keep contents heated and warm.
Place remaining half of olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a frying pan. For 4 to 5 minutes, saute the carrots, celery and leeks, keeping the contents continually stirred so they don't overheat or turn brown.
Combine the sauteed vegetables with the beans and ham or other meat, placing ingredients in the soup pot. Simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
Add the Swiss chard and Belgian endive. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
Preheat oven on broil setting. If pancetta is used, remove from soup. If a ham bone was added, remove at this point from the soup and cut off any ham remaining on the bone, adding the meat to the soup.
Using a hand, immersion, or tabletop blender, puree half of the soup and then return to the soup pot. Add the bits of ham, pancetta or prosciutto after blending.
Slice several thick pieces of bread from a baguette or a similar loaf of bread and toast each piece. Place one toasted piece of crusty bread in the bottom of each oven-safe soup bowl and sprinkle each slice of bread with approximately 1 oz. of the grated Parmesan cheese. Flash melt cheese topping in oven or the microwave for a distinctive flavor. Add soup over the toasted bread and grated Parmesan. Serve soup in oven safe bowls that will retain the heat or use the microwave to keep soup warm while serving.
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