Ribollita (Tuscan minestrone)
This a hearty and very warming soup, a Tuscan minestrone enjoyed during cold months.It is thickened by the stale toasted Tuscan casareccio bread. Usually an Italian minestrone is finished off with grated parmesan cheese. The ribollita doesn’t call for the grated parmesan, however I like to add spare parmesan rinds while cooking this soup (they are edible but very hard so I store them in the fridge and use them to add some extra flavour to soups and sauces). Make sure you use a good quality olive oil to drizzle on top of the ribillita just before serving.
Soak the beans in cold water overnight.
If you wish you can boil them separately and then add them to the soup towards the end of cooking but that is not necessary.
Start with heating up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pot and frying the crushed garlic until golden, just to release some flavour, after that discard the garlic.
Next add the onions and celery into the pan. After 5 minutes add the potatoes and the carrots (also the pre-soaked and drained beans if you are not cooking them separately) and fry for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. Now add the cavolo nero and savoy cabbage and wait until the leaves start to wilt.
Now is the time to cover the vegetables with water or vegetable stock, not more than 3-4 cm above the surface of the vegetables.
Add the herbs and cook for a minimum of 30 minutes on a low heat until the vegetables are soft.
Add the seasoning at the end (the salt shouldn’t be added any earlier as it hardens the beans during cooking). Taste and make sure you’ve added the right amount of salt and then grind in some black pepper to your preference.
For the bread layers:
Pour some soup into another pot. Next arrange one layer of the bread pieces on top and cover with some more soup. Make another layer of bread and cover with the remaining soup.
Put a lid on and leave to cool. The bread will absorb the liquid and turn soft.
Warm up the soup on a low heat. add more water or vegetable stock if it is too thick.
Divide it between serving soup plates or bowls and drizzle with a very good quality of olive oil moments before serving.
Ribollita means reboiled, cooked again, which is exactly the last stage of preparing the minestrone before serving.