Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ribollita

Billy and I just got back from a weekend camping trip. We went up to Zion National Park which was about a 6 hour drive. It was also our first camping trip together since we've been married. I was nervous about remembering everything, because it could be very annoying to forget salt, or ..water. But we did pretty good. The only thing we forgot was the charcoal, but that was luckily remembered on the way rather than right before cooking. My experience after all of this? I like camping, and I especially loved the outdoors cooking and challenges that it brought about. This post has hardly anything to do with outdoor cooking though, just a pretty picture taken outdoors of a great tasting soup.

Ribollita is a family favorite (of the two of us). I started making it that first year we were married. The first recipe I found was out of Sunset magazine, and it never occurred to me that they didn't suggest the bread to be cooked into the soup. It was still quite delicious, and I think they omitted the bread step on account of carb conscious readers. Three years later we took a cooking class for our anniversary (gifted to us by my mom) and one of the courses we learned to cook was Ribollita. The chef let the bread soak into the soup. It dissolved. The soup was thickened. I never would've known such a simple thing.

I hope you are enjoying your summer and maybe get out there and camp! Cook Ribollita too, for a fun throwback to rustic Italian. And lastly, love you all. Thank you for your sweet comments and support. It helps a ton to have sweet friends and family.

Ribollita
Adapted from Sur La Table
Time: 45 min - 1 hr Serves: 6
Cook's Notes: This meal could easily be vegetarian, just omit the bacon and also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Another idea for prepping your vegetables- you may want to play with different types of cuts for the carrots or onions. Updated process 3/16. 
Kitchen Tested

Ingredients:
2, 15 oz cans cannellini beans (or white beans), drained and rinsed
4 -5 cups chicken broth, homemade or low sodium variety, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1, 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
2 cups kale, sliced into ribbons
2 cups bread cubes, crust removed
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

How To:
1) Add beans to a stock pot or dutch oven, and cover with 3 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, drop heat back down to medium and let beans simmer for 15 minutes while you prep the next ingredients.

2) Add oil to a skillet, over medium heat. Add bacon. Stir occasionally or until crispy. Remove bacon and reserve drippings in pan. Add onions to skillet. Turn heat down to low. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be slightly caramelized.

3) Add carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to onions. Turn heat back up to medium. Sauté for another 4-5 minutes. 

4) While vegetables are sautéing, remove half of the beans (with liquid) from the stock pot and purée in food processor or blender. Add the purée back into the stock pot, and add in the vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken broth (about 1-2 cups). Add tomatoes and kale.

5) Bring to a boil, then drop heat back down to medium. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed.

6) In the last ten minutes of cooking, add in the bread cubes. Stir to incorporate into the soup and the bread will slowly dissolve into the broth, making it nice and thick.

Serve with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese. You may also serve the crispy bacon as a topping too. Happy cooking.

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