This classic Tuscan recipe for Ribollita is a simple, yet flavorful and filling kale and bean soup. It makes a hearty and delicious winter meal.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 ounces (1/4 lb) pancetta, diced (optional)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1 cup finely diced carrots
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 whole clove
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes (optional)
- 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes with juice (canned)
- 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade if possible (substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
- 1 lb dried cranberry (borlotti) beans, cannelini beans or other white beans, soaked overnight*
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- 1 large bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed and roughly copped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Slices of crusty Italian bread, for serving
- grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
- Pour the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot and set it over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until it starts to give up its fat, about 6 minutes. Add the onions, celery and carrots with a generous pinch of salt and cook, while stirring, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and crushed red chile flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, then use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes a bit. Drain the beans and add to the pot along with the bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans have softened, about 2 hours, supplementing with water if it starts to become too thick. Taste, then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add in the chopped kale, stir, then simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the kale is cooked through. Stir in the parsley and set aside.
- Toast the sliced bread in the oven or toaster until golden brown, then immediately rub on all sides with the remaining whole garlic clove and drizzle generously with olive oil.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with grated pecorino Romano. Serve with garlic toasts for dipping.
- *Substitute 4 15-ounce cans of beans for dried if desired. If using canned, be sure to drain and rinse them of their liquid, and reduce the chicken stock by half.
- This soup is even better the next day, but the beans will continue to absorb liquid as it sits. Add water when reheating and adjust the seasoning to keep it at a soupy consistency.
Keywords: Italian soup, cranberry beans, dried beans, cannelini beans, winter soup