Ribollita means ‘reboiled’. That’s not an attractive title is it? But the name belies just how wonderful this soup is: incredibly tasty, healthy, sustaining, satisfying. I urge you to try it. It’s what you’d call ‘hearty peasant food’ but to us, it’s dinner, or lunch. It’s a great way to use up old, hearty bread, a bit past its best.
We do use this to use up the older sourdough and it makes a large vat. I think it’d easily serve six.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, slice finely
4 stalks of celery, chopped and de-‘stringed’ (don’t worry if you can’t be bothered to do this but we do)
3 chopped carrots
500g Swiss chard or cavolo nero. What you need to do here, with your hands, is separate out the stems and cut them into half a fingers length if they’re big, strip the leaves off and put to one side so you end up with two piles: the leaves and the stems. I can just imagine my nonna doing this whilst chatting to her women friends, putting the world to right
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped. I HATE garlic crushers
A small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped up small
400g can of good, plum peeled tomatoes.
400g borlotti beans
some old sourdough/hearty bread (I leave this out sometimes but it’s a great way of using up old bread, do NOT be tempted to put in crap white supermarket sliced for goodness sake)
So you heat the butter up in the saucepan with the oil, until the butter has just melted. If you add the veg to really hot oil, it will brown and you don’t want that, you want to soften it. Add the onion, celery and carrots and the chard stalks and give it about 20 mins. Cover it, don’t cover it, it doesn’t really matter. Then add the garlic, and parsley and cook for another five mins. Now stir in the tomatoes, there shouldn’t be much juice if these are quality tomatoes but add whatever there is. Break them up a bit and cook for about 10 mins. Now add the beans and pour enough water to cover the whole thing. Simmer for half an hour, 40 mins. Then add the leaves of the chard or cavolo nero and cook for another ten or so minutes. Add a bit more water if it looks too thick but I never have had to.
Season, add the bread and serve drizzled with olive oil if you want, but I never do.