I saved this recipe ages ago, and decided to make it because it sounded “different".” After buying the necessary ingredients and cooking the beans, I started to get nervous at how different it was, with very few herbs in the broth and, well, soggy bread. Luckily, Heidi is a master with soups, I needn’t have worried.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ½ fennel bulb, chopped
- 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can tomatoes
- 1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound greens (kale, chard) stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
- 4 cups cooked white beans
- 1/2 pound loaf of bread
- 1 1/2+ teaspoons salt
- zest of one lemon
- lots of well-chopped oily black olives
- In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, fennel, garlic, carrot, and onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the greens, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water - until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 - 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.
- Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or "ribollita" meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil (optional) and some chopped olives.
Comments: This recipe is extremely flexible, and undeniably delicious. I used plain white bread, with crusts and had no problems, although I’d probably try something heartier next time for a bit more nutrition. I’ll definitely be repeating this, despite it’s less-than-savory appearance.