La ribollita

La ribollita

La ribollita is undoubtedly the queen of all hearty soups. The word means ‘reboiled’ – and slow cooking is indeed the secret of this thick vegetable soup. Hailing from Tuscany, there are many different versions and recipes, but they all call for black leaf kale, or cavolo nero. You might substitute this vegetable with Savoy cabbage, but the real thing would provide you with the best authentic and deliciously rustic feel and taste. The other key ingredient is the white cannellini bean that is central to many Tuscan dishes. Prepare the soup with the best ingredients you have at hand, and the next day, serve a different version by adding new vegetables. Enjoy the soup in good company with toasted Italian bread.

Ingredients: 

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100 grams/ 3.5 oz (smoked) pancetta, cubed (optional)

2-4 dry chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2-3 carrots, sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

3 medium size potatoes, diced

2 tins of peeled tomatoes

1 can of cannellini beans

1 head of black-leaf kale, i.e. cavolo nero, sliced

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary

fresh oregano

1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups water

(stale) Italian bread

La ribollita

Instructions: 

If you are using dry beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Drain and rinse.

Heat olive oil in a large cooking vessel, like a cast iron or cast aluminium pot, and saute the onion, garlic, and pancetta until the onion softens and becomes golden and the pancetta is crispy. Add the chili, carrots, potatoes and celery, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato tins, the cabbage and the beans, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, and with the fresh herbs.

Add enough water, about 1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups, to cover all the ingredients. Let the soup simmer for about 90 minutes over a very low heat. Remember to stir every now and then, and if needed, add water.

Let the soup stand for an hour. The longer it lingers, the better the taste gets. Reheat it again just before serving.

Toast (stale) Italian bread and put it at the bottom of the soup plate before ladling in the soup. Drizzle some olive oil over the soup and add a pinch of black pepper. You can also serve the soup with a slice of toasted bread.

Pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro is a prime example of Tuscan cucina povera cooking. This dish is made with ingredients every peasant has available to them – Tuscan salt free bread, ripe tomatoes, olive oil, broth, garlic, plus sage and basil. Initially, this soup was created in order to make some use of stale bread. Several variations of this dish exist, and for example onions, leek, celery and carrots can be added. In winter, this soup can be served hot as a hearty meal and in summer it is equally inviting, but best served at room temperature. For the real experience, only use Tuscan bread and olive oil – you will feel the difference. Once the soup is ready, drizzle a good amount of olive oil on top, sprinkle some black pepper and garnish with a few basil leaves. This is the taste of real Italy!

Ingredients: 

250 gr/ 8 2/3 oz stale Italian bread

550 gr/ 19 oz fresh tomatoes, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 dry chilies, deseeded and finely chopped

fresh sage leaves

1.5 l/ 6 2/3 cups vegetable stock

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil leaves to garnish

Pappa al pomodoro

Instructions: 

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the minced garlic and a couple of sage leaves together with the dry chilies for a few minutes. Add the sliced tomatoes, season with pepper, and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.

Pour the boiling vegetable stock into the pan, and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes, and add the stale bread in small pieces. Cook for further 5 minutes and stir the mixture often. Season with salt and turn off the heat. At this point the soup should still be quite watery. Let the soup stand for an hour. After that, mash the bread pieces until they are nearly dissolved and warm up the soup again.

Serve the soup warm, not hot, and drizzle some olive oil on the surface. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Minestrone di verdure

Minestrone di verdure

Minestrone, a thick vegetable soup, is a prime example of cucina povera cooking. Common ingredients include pasta, beans, tomato, celery, carrots and onions, but because there is no set recipe, you can use your favorite vegetables that are in season. Like many Italian dishes, the original minestrone was probably not made for its own sake, but the ingredients were pooled from available left-overs. There are also vast regional differences – Minestrone alla Genovese has pesto in it, but the Milanese version contains potatoes, bacon and pork rind. Minestrone soup can be served cold, too.

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

leek, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 large carrot or 3 small, in cubes

1.5 l/6 1/3 cups cold vegetable stock

3 tbsp tomato puree

3-5 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Parmigiano rind

200 gr/7 oz peas

200 gr/7 oz brown beans

100 gr/3.5 oz spaghetti

fresh parsley, chopped

100 gr/ 3.5 oz bacon (optional)

Instructions: 

Minestrone di verdureSlice all the vegetables. Saute the onion, garlic, leek, zucchini and carrots in a pan. Add the cold vegetable stock and the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper, and add the bay leaves. Let the soup simmer on a low heat for ca. 45 minutes. Half way through, add the Parmigiano rind. Add the spaghetti together with the peas and beans after 45 minutes and let the soup simmer for another 5 minutes. If necessary, add water. Garnish each plate with fresh parsley. Serve with Italian countryside bread.