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Ribollita & Minestra di Pane Recipes - Tuscan Ribollita Recipe

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Ribollita, A Classic Tuscan Bread & Kale Soup

Ribollita, A Classic Tuscan Bread & Kale Soup

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Minestra di pane and ribollita are two of the best uses for sliced Tuscan bread (crusty, firm of crumb, and without salt) I have ever come across. Tuscans make this hearty winter soup (Ribollita is Minestra di Pane reheated) with cavolo nero, black leaf kale, a long-leafed variety of winter cabbage whose leaves are a very dark purplish green. When it's reheated the next day, Minestra di Pane becomes Ribollita, and is even better!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (500 g) dried white beans, washed and soaked for three hours
  • A small onion, a small carrot, a six inch stick of celery, and a small bunch of parsley, minced together
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound (500 g) cavolo nero (black-leaf kale in English), shredded
  • 1 pound (500 g) beet greens, ribbed and shredded
  • 1/2 pound (250 g) potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Salt, pepper, and a sprig of thyme
  • Thinly sliced day old crusty Italian or French white bread
  • Olive oil (to be used at the table)

Preparation:

Boil the beans in water to cover by about 2 inches (4 cm), adding more boiling water if need be to keep them submerged, and lightly salting them when they're almost done. At this point sauté the onion mixture in the oil, in a heavy bottomed pot. When the onion has become translucent, add the tomato paste and the liquid from the beans. Add the cabbage, beet greens, and potatoes. Stir in the beans and season to taste with salt, pepper, and a sprig of thyme. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked (taste a piece for doneness), and remove the thyme. Take a serving dish that can be heated (for a family meal we simply use a nice-looking, fairly deep, fairly broad steel pot, though if company is coming we might use a terracotta stewpot of the sort that requires the use of a flame tamer and a moderate flame lest it crack) and fill it with alternating layers of thinly sliced bread and soup, making sure the bread is damp, until the soup is used up.

Served immediately, this dish is called minestra di pane, or bread soup. However, it improves dramatically with age, so much that when it’s reheated and served the next day it’s called ribollita, reboiled, and is one of the few reasons to get excited about the arrival of winter.

Reheating does require some care lest the minestra di pane burn: You will likely find that it has absorbed liquid as it rested overnight and looks rather dry. Add a little water, enough to moisten it, and heat it over a gentle flame, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. When it is bubbling hot it is ready.

Serve it as a first course, with a cruet of extra virgin olive oil so your diners can sprinkle it into their soup according to their taste. The wine? A light zesty red, for example a Chianti Colli Fiorentini would go well, as would a rosé.

Yield: 6 servings Ribollita or Minestra di Pane.

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