Ribollita Tuscan Soup Stew & The Results of Cook With Me!

Ribollita

A hearty Tuscan soup closer to a stew, Ribollita, meaning "reboiled" makes use of leftover vegetable soup and transforms it into a delicious, comforting bowl of warmth. It's an economical dish with peasant origins that is easy to make.

Ribollita means reboiled when leftover vegetable soup is given a new lease on life being cooked again with chunks of bread added. This version is an all in one job that produces a divine, rustic and comforting soup in one pot. It's distinct peasant roots mean that it is inexpensive to make using beans and vegetables but yet delivers on flavour and comfort.

Tuscan bread is usually unsalted and dense and usually served with charcuterie to give it taste. It won't be easy to find it here so use any bread that you want to thicken it up. I have even used a rye bread that Mr NQN didn't like and he didn't even notice that it was in it. I cannot tell you how wholesome and delicious this is and I found myself craving some after a lot of dinners out with lots of rich food. If you want a taste of why Tuscan food is so well loved and comforting then this is it.

Whenever we have a gathering with the in-laws, I always learn something new about Mr NQN's family. These gatherings are usually a picnic or dinner at Tuulikki's apartment. Everyone brings a plate; I normally bring dessert and the rest is usually vegetarian fare. Tuulikki is the first to proclaim that she loathes cooking so her contribution is something like a lentil stew with lashings of turmeric. It's hearty food for winter.

Sometimes Mr NQN's father Roger will come by. He and Tuulikki are no longer married and he often spends much of his time overseas or besotted with a new hobby. This year it is with an acting class - not because he wants to be an actor but just as a hobby.

That night he turned to Tuulikki. "I've got the marijuana for you," he said to her and she mumbled something and looked embarrassed. "Um what?" I asked - that was the first I'd ever heard about it. It turned out what he was calling marijuana for shock value was hemp protein powder. My father in law is an unusual man, prone to bouts of shock and attention getting behaviour (most of which I can't even write about!!). He lives in an alternate world too - he loves technology but when we gave him a lift home he was taken aback.

"What is that drawing?" he said fascinated.

"Do you mean the GPS Roger?" we answered. Aww bless!

The next time we get together with the Elliotts for the next birthday will be a slightly chillier weather and I will make this soup, a delicious Tuscan stew or soup.

So tell me Dear Reader, when you have family gatherings, do you have them at home or out at a restaurant? And for the next Cook With Me challenge, would you prefer a sweet or savoury dish? Or do you not mind?

Ribollita Tuscan Stew

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 6-8 (it's a thick, hearty soup)

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 450g tin diced tomatoes
  • 2 x 450g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups cavalo nero leaves (or curly kale, leaves only)
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped (my addition, this is optional)
  • 1/3 loaf of dense bread, crusts included, broken into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Ribollita

Step 1 - Place a large pot on medium to high heat and add oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes until fragrant.

Ribollita

Step 2 - Add the rest of the ingredients i.e. the tomatoes, beans, stock and chilli if using. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. If you are using curly kale, add this now, but if you are using Tuscan kale, add after about 10 minutes.

Ribollita

Step 3 - Turn off the heat and remove 2 cups of the vegetables from the soup and set aside. Add the bread to the pot and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes (depending on how stale your bread is, mine was fairly fresh so it took 5 minutes to soften). Take an immersion blender or place this in a blender and pulse. It should be thick and it was described to me by a friend as like "breakfast oatmeal". Taste for seasoning adding salt, pepper and sugar. Add back the 2 cups of vegetables to give this a bit of texture. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Ribollita

Note: the flavours develop well over time but this will thicken so thin this out with water or more stock when reheating.

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