Posts Tagged ‘soup’

Tuscan Ribollita – a hearty traditional vegetable, bean, and bread stew

Yesterday was the perfect day to make a big batch of comfort food – a Tuscan vegetable stew called Ribollita. We make this dish during one of the cooking classes with Chef Piero on the Tuscany food tour, but I had yet to make it at home.

You layer cooked vegetables and beans with toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic, and then let it all sit for two hours while the ingredients come to know themselves – they come together deliciously, and the dish becomes more than the sum of its parts somehow.

The full recipe is below, following the photos.

The night before, soak your beans, and then the next morning cook them for an hour or so until tender, so they’re ready to use when you want to start cooking your stew. [I grew Tuscan zolfini beans in my garden this year, so I was excited to use this classic (and hard to find) Tuscan bean in my soup. Tuscans love zolfini beans because they become soft and creamy when cooked, but retain their shape. Cannelini or another white bean of choice can be used instead of course.]

When you’re ready to make your soup, chop up several different kinds of vegetables fairly finely, and sauté them in a large pot in a generous amount of olive oil until soft (reserving some of the raw onions for later).

Chopping up the savoy cabbage

Chopping up the savoy cabbage

Sauteing the vegetables until soft

Sauteing the vegetables until soft

While the vegetables are cooking, divide your cooked beans in half, and run half of them through the food mill (or push through a fine-mesh sieve).

A food mill is still a handy tool to have!

A food mill is still a handy tool to have!

Beans ready for adding to the stew

Beans ready for adding to the stew

Once the vegetables are soft, stir in both the whole beans and the food-milled beans, as well as some water, or broth if you prefer. (The recipe called for using the bean-soaking water, but I worry a bit about doing that, gas-wise…) Bring it to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour. While it cooks, saute the rest of the raw onion, and some garlic, until soft and just turning golden.

The vegetables and beans cooking for an hour

The vegetables and beans cooking for an hour

Sauteing the rest of the onion, and some garlic

Sauteing the rest of the onion, and some garlic

While the soup is cooking, slice your stale bread, toast it, and rub it with a cut clove of fresh garlic.

Stale sliced farm-bread toasting in the oven

Stale sliced farm-bread toasting in the oven

Rub the toast with fresh garlic

Rub the toast with fresh garlic

After the stew has cooked for an hour, turn off the heat, and stir in the onions and garlic. Then you use another large pot (or in my case, the same pot after you pour the stew out of it into a big bowl), put a layer of the garlic toast in the bottom, spoon over some stew, drizzle some olive oil over and grind some fresh pepper, then another layer of the garlic toast, and repeat until all the toast and stew are in the pot, ending with stew on top.

Layering the toast and the stew

Layering the toast and the stew

All layers in!

All layers in!

Then you put on the lid and let the stew sit for 2 hours, while all the ingredients come together. After 2 hours I went to heat the stew up gently before serving, and found that all the liquid had been absorbed!

The liquid had all been absorbed in my stew! So I added a little boiling water.

The liquid had all been absorbed in my stew! So I added a little boiling water.

So I added in a couple more cups of boiling water, stirred it, heated it gently, and served. I grated fresh parmigiano reggiano over the top of each bowl, and drizzled with a good strong olive oil. It was delicious, the bread perfectly soft, and very rich and hearty tasting, yet starting with very plain ingredients.

Recipe follows, enjoy! -Jillian

Tuscan Bread, Bean and Vegetable Soup
(La Minestra di Pane Ribollita)

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 onion, coarsely chopped
– 2 zucchini, chopped into small pieces
– 2 celery sticks, chopped into small pieces
– 2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
– 1/2 savoy cabbage, chopped into small pieces
– 20 leaves tuscan kale (also called dinosaur kale or lacinato kale) or swiss chard, chopped into small pieces
– 2 peeled tomatoes (I used 1 small can tomatoes and their juice)
– 250 grams boiled white beans (I started with about 8 ounces (by weight) of dry zolfini beans)
– 1 kg stale tuscan-style bread (I used a hearty farm bread)
– 2 cloves garlic, plus more for rubbing on the toast
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
– parmigiano reggiano cheese and olive oil for topping

METHOD:

1. Soak your beans the night before, and cook them until soft, so they’re ready for use. Reserve the cooking liquid if you want to add it to the stew later. Chop the onion coarsely. Chop the rest of the vegetables into small pieces, ie, zucchini, celery, carrots, and cabbage. Place half the chopped onion and the rest of the vegetables in a large stockpot, with the dried thyme if using. Add some olive oil and sauté over medium to medium-high heat until soft and well-cooked, stirring often (about 20 minutes). Add half the cooked beans, and puree the rest of the beans by passing them through a food mill, and add to the soup also. Add 8 to 12 cups water (or broth if you prefer, or use the reserved bean cooking liquid). Bring to a boil, then cook for 1 hour on medium heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally. I also added about 2 teaspoons of salt, but the Tuscans use salt quite sparingly so only add salt to your own taste.

2. While the soup is cooking, sauté in a frying pan the rest of the chopped onion and garlic (finely chopped) in olive oil. Also toast the sliced stale bread, and rub a cut clove of fresh garlic over each slice. When the soup has cooked for an hour, stir in the sautéed onions and garlic. Arrange a layer of bread in the bottom of a deep terracotta dish or a large pot with lid. Pour a few generous ladlefuls of the soup over the bread until it is covered, plus a little olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

3. Continue to layer the bread and soup in this way until the dish is full. Cover and leave to rest for approximately 2 hours. Before serving, heat the bread soup mixture gently until hot, stirring well. (My soup had absorbed all the liquid, so before heating I stirred in a couple cups of boiling water.) Serve with extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top, as well as freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, and put out the salt cellar so guests can add salt to their taste.

French Sorrel Soup, with a nod to Julia Child

Sorrel is one of the very first plants to come up in the spring in my front yard, and after only a few weeks it’s so prolific I have plenty to make soup with, as well as to enjoy in salads. So, last weekend I made my first batch of sorrel soup, based on Julia Child’s recipe.

First, you pick the leaves (or buy them from the farmer’s market), and chop them fairly small. Admire the lively green color of the fresh leaves – as soon as you start to cook them they turn a very drab green (but don’t worry, they still retain their intense lemon taste!).

01 whole-sorrel-leaves

Whole sorrel leaves

02 chopped-sorrel

The sorrel rinsed, dried, and chopped.

Then you chop up your scallions or ramps or other mild onion, and cook gently for 10 minutes in a covered pot.

03 chopped-scallions

Chopped scallions

04 cooking-scallions

Cooking the scallions slowly

Add the chopped sorrel to the pot, and cook gently for another 10 minutes or so. Then stir in a bit of flour (I used a gluten-free rice flour.)

06 added-sorrel-leaves

Sorrel added to the scallions

07 added-the-flou

Adding the flour and stirring

While the sorrel leaves are cooking, bring broth to a simmer in another small pot. And, whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl.

05 heating-the-broth

Bringing the homemade chicken broth to a simmer

08 eggs

Egg yolks and cream whisked together

Whisk the hot broth in to the soup, stirring constantly. When this has come to a simmer, ladle a little soup into the bowl of egg yolk and cream, whisking constantly so it does not curdle, and repeat this two more times.

09 soup-ready-for-the-eggs

The broth added in to the soup and brought to a simmer

10 tempering-eggs

Whisking a little of the hot broth into the egg-cream mixture

Then you can slowly add the egg-cream mixture in to the soup, whisking the whole time. Let it cook at the lowest heat for a few minutes; don’t let it come up to a simmer or boil. Serve at once; I like to sprinkle it with a little bit of fresh chopped sorrel. And I enjoyed it with a dry rosé, preferably dining al fresco! Ah, spring. Recipe follows.

11 adding-eggs-to-soup

Slowly adding the tempered cream and egg yolks to the soup

12 finished-soup

Time to eat!

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup green onions, ramps, or other mild onion, chopped
4-6 packed cups green sorrel, chopped, and keep a couple tablespoons to the side for serving
salt
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken stock
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cream

DIRECTIONS

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the green onions or ramps and turn the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook gently for 10 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, pour the stock into another pot and bring to a simmer.

Turn the heat up in the pot with the green onions, add the sorrel leaves and a healthy pinch of salt to the green onions and stir well. When the sorrel is mostly wilted, turn the heat back to medium-low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Mix in the flour and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.

Whisk in the hot stock, stirring constantly. Bring this to a simmer.

To finish the soup, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Temper the mixture by ladling a little soup into it with one hand, while you whisk the egg-cream mix with the other. Repeat this three times. (You are doing this to prevent the eggs from scrambling) Now start whisking the soup. Pour the hot egg-cream-soup mixture into the pot with the soup, whisking all the way. Let this cook — below a simmer — for 5 minutes. Do not let it boil or the soup will break. Serve at once. I like to garnish with a little shredded sorrel, and ideally a little drizzle of a fantastic olive oil on top.

New Year’s Day Red Lentil Soup

It’s an Italian tradition to eat lentils around New Year’s for good luck – I find that I start to crave simpler, bean- and vegetable-based dishes after the winter holidays, so it’s a tradition I enjoy following. On New Year’s Day I made a red lentil soup, which my Mom gave me the recipe for. It’s easy and fresh tasting. I tend to use a bit more lemon juice than called for. Recipe follows, enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground chili powder or cayenne, or to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Greek yogurt as optional garnish

METHOD:

In a large pot, heat 3 T oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne and saute 2 minutes longer. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup, but stop while it’s still somewhat chunky. (If you use a regular blender instead, puree some of the soup, and then return that to the pot with the rest of the soup.) Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired. Optional garnish of Greek yogurt.

Florentine Soup

Florentine soup and gluten-free biscuits

Years ago my mom and I spent the days leading up to New Year’s Eve in Florence, and on a chilly, rainy night we warmed ourselves at a small restaurant with a Florentine soup that was full of spinach and rice and rich with beans, eggs, and parmesan. I still love that combination together with the bright flavor from the fresh lemon juice whisked in at the end, and make this often. I think I got this version of the recipe from the New York Times. The gluten-free biscuits are from a recipe I found on the web; they are quite tasty and satisfying with the soup.
-Jillian

Florentine Soup

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 10oz package frozen spinach
– 1 cup canned cannellini beans (I often use 2 cans)
– 2 cans chicken broth (I use one 32 oz box, or homemade if I have it)
– 1/2 teaspoon thyme
– 1/2 teaspoon dill
– 1 bay leaf
– 2 egg yolks
– juice of 1 medium lemon (2 Tablespoons)
– 1 cup cooked rice
– grated parmesan cheese

METHOD:

Cook spinach as directed on package, do not drain. Puree cannellini beans with broth. In a large pot add broth/bean mixture, spices, spinach. Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes. Beat egg yolks with lemon juice and add slowly to the simmering soup, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Add rice. Serve with grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
Servings: 4