My favourite ribollita (La mia ribollita preferita)
- 310 g zolfini or cannellini beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 small potato
- 2 small red onions
- 2 carrots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 sticks celery
- olive oil
- 1 pinch ground fennel seeds
- 1 pinch dried red chilli
- 400 g plum tomatoes
- 310 g cavolo nero
- 2 large handfuls stale bread
- extra virgin olive oil
Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf – this will help to flavour the beans and soften their skins. Squash the tomato, peel the potato and add both to the pan. Cook until the beans are tender – taste one to check they’re nice and soft. Dried beans can take up to an hour, but check fresh ones after 25 minutes. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water), and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato.
Peel and finely chop your onions, carrots and garlic. Trim and finely chop the celery.
Heat a saucepan with a splash of olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan with the ground fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat very slowly on a low heat with the lid just ajar for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
Add the cooked and drained beans with a little of the water they were cooked in, and bring back to the boil.
Finely slice the cavolo nero (stalks and all) and add to the pan – it will look like loads, but don’t worry as it will cook down.
Tear the bread into chunks, then moisten with a little of the cooking water and stir it in too. The soup should be thick but not dry, so add a little more cooking water if you need to loosen it. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes – you want to achieve a silky, thick soup.
Season the ribollita with sea salt and black pepper, and stir in 4 good lugs of good-quality Tuscan extra virgin olive oil before serving to give it a glossy velvety texture.
Delicious served on a cold winter’s day with lots and lots of Chianti!