The heart of winter - what could be better than another hearty soup recipe? This one comes from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks - The Silver Spoon. This is a classic Italian 'thick soup' - the distinctive characteristic being the immersion of one or more slices of bread in the stock with no additional pasta or rice. Ribollita means 're-boiled' in Italian because it originally was made using the previous day's leftover vegetable soup.
Since the recipe called for putting a slice of country-style bread on the bottom of the bowl before putting finishing it in the oven, I decided to make a 'bread bowl' using some Artisan Bread in 5 dough that I had in the refrigerator. I flattened the dough as for pizza and shaped it to fit my soup bowls and then baked them in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes. This would have been so perfect if only I would have sprayed the baking dish with some oil first and used more flour when shaping or rolling out the bread! The bread stuck to the dish and was a little hard to spoon out with the soup but it still tasted wonderful. A drizzle of olive oil, some freshly-grated parm on the top and a turn or two of freshly ground pepper - wonderful!
Recipe adapted from The Silver Spoon
The major changes I made were adding more vegetables and stock instead of plain water.
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizling
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalk, chopped
5 canned tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
1 fresh thyme sprig or 1 tsp dried thyme
4 potatoes, coarsely diced (about 2 cups)
7.5 cups cavolo nero (Tuscan cabbage), shredded Kale or Savoy cabbage are good substitutes
4 cups chicken stock + reserved tomato juices + additional water to = 8-3/4 cups total liquid
2 cups cannelini beans
or 1 cup dry white beans, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
Enough country-style bread slices for the number of people you are serving
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes, thyme and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the cavolo nero and beans. Pour in 8.75 cups water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread in the bottom of an oven-proof soup bowl or small casserole dish and ladle in the soup. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with oil. Add freshly-grated parmesan, if desired.
My Notes: The amount of vegetables I used are doubled from the original recipe. Also, the original recipes called for using plain water. For the cabbage, I used Savoy but I think Kale would probably be closer in texture to cavalo nero.