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Twice-Cooked Tuscan Bread Soup
Ribollita

Serves 12

Ribollita 
This famous soup is a fixture on every Tuscan trattoria menu. Although it's traditionally made a day or more before serving and then reheated, it may also be eaten fresh.

1 lb. dried cannellini beans
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 ribs celery, trimmed and thickly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large bunch swiss chard, trimmed
     and coarsely chopped
1 bunch cavolo nero or kale, trimmed
     and coarsely chopped
1/2 small savoy cabbage, cored
     and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped canned Italian plum tomatoes
3 thick slices day-old country white bread

1. Cover beans with cold water and soak in a large pot for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain, then add 12 cups water, 2 tbsp. Of the oil, garlic, and sage. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season to taste with salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until beans are tender, 1-2 hours more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Remove beans from heat, set aside, and allow beans to cool in cooking liquid. Reserve 1 cup cooked beans, then purée remaining beans along with the cooking liquid and set aside.

3. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in the same casserole over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, chard, cavolo nero, and cabbage, stirring well. Add tomatoes, cover, and cook until greens wilt, about 20 minutes.

4. Add puréed beans and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. Add bread and reserved beans, stir gently, cover, return to a simmer, and cook about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then refrigerate overnight.

5. The next day, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat soup in a casserole in the oven, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, then cook for 30 minutes more without stirring. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup oil and serve.

Cooking Beans

Cooking beans correctly is a matter taken very seriously in Tuscany. Marco Noferi, a farmer in Paterna, not far from Arezzo, explained to writer Lori Zimring de Mori the three cardinal components for preparing dried beans so that they end up tender but firm, with a dense, rich flavor:

  • time (cook them for at least two hours, more if the beans are old),
  • temperature (use the lowest possible heat, so that the water barely simmers.
  • "Boiling them in a metal pot kills half the flavor," adds Noferi, and
  • olive oil (use the very best and freshest available). "You can't really talk about beans without talking about olive oil," Noferi maintains.
 

Buy the Book!

 

from:
Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian
Savoring the Recipes and Traditions of the World's Favorite Cuisine
By the editors of Saveur Magazine
Chronicle Books, 2001
9-5/8 x 10 in; 320 pp
$40.00 Hardcover
ISBN 0811832678
Recipe reprinted by permission.

 

Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian

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This page created May 2002


 

 
 

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