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I was three days into my first trip to Tuscany when calamity struck. I was sick.
Not just a sniffle here and there or a slight soreness to the throat, but a full-on “I’m so stopped up I can barely breathe, and I’ve lost my voice” kind of sick. Plus sneezing. Lots of sneezing. I was staying at the stunning Castello Banfi Il Borgo, surrounded by luxury and one of the most beautiful landscapes, but the most therapeutic and uplifting cures came in the form of a humble peasant dish called Ribollita soup.
The bean, tomato, and kale-based soup topped with rustic toasted bread eased all my ailments, and for the space of a few hours, my sinuses opened, and my voice returned, giving me a few precious moments each day to actually enjoy my stay.
While Ribollita soup might not be a miracle cure, I have fond memories of this travel-inspired dish, and I’ve enjoyed making it at home, particularly on chilly winter days.
- Dutch Oven or Large Oven-Safe Stock Pot
- 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking vegetables
- 3 tbsp olive oil for drizzling
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 cups canned white cannellini beans or 1 cup dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
- 1 28 oz can of tomatoes peeled
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 fresh thyme sprig or 1/4 tsp dried
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig or 1/4 tsp dried
- 1 pound kale chopped or shredded
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 4 large, thick slices bread, toasted (any country style bread is fine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Heat olive oil for sauteeing vegetables in a large, oven-safe pot at medium heat
- Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until softened (8 – 10 minutes)
- Drain beans (if using canned) and rinse well. Add to pot along with tomatoes in their juices plus the stock, rosemary, and thyme. (If including 2 potatoes as Hazan's recipe calls for, include them here). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cover and cook 15 – 20 minutes until the flavors meld, stirring here and there to break up the tomatoes.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- If using fresh rosemary and thyme, remove after 15-20 minutes are up and begin stirring in the kale, a little at a time. It will probably seem like a lot, but it quickly wilts down into the soup, making room for you to add more. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the toasted bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the surface, but don't overlap them. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle the grated Parmesan on top.
- Place pot in the oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until bread and cheese are browned and crisp.