Ribollita

Tuscan Kale Soup

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family which also includes veggies like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.

Kale really is one of nature’s super foods – packed full of calcium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants.

There are many different varieties of Kale – this recipe calls for Cavolo Nero (also known as Tuscan Kale or Black Kale – see picture) – but you can substitute curly kale or even silverbeet if that is all you can get hold of.

Ribollita is one of my favourite soups and it comes from the Tuscan region of Italy. It is one of those delicious peasant style soups that are so thick and hearty that it becomes a meal in itself.  I first had it years ago when I was staying at a beautiful rustic farmhouse outside Florence in Tuscany – and since then I have been hooked and I often make it on cold, wintery days.

Ribollita in Italian actually means “twice cooked” – owing to the fact that it is best to make this soup the day before and reheat it the next day when it will be more thick and flavoursome. My sister who lives in Italy, says that a good Ribollita should be thick enough to allow a spoon to stand up in the pot!  You can use up bread that is a bit stale and dry in this recipe or you can toast a fresher type of bread to achieve the right consistency.

But if you don’t have time to make it the day before you can still make it on the day – it will be equally delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • pinch of dried chili
  • pinch of fennel or aniseed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon organic tomato paste
  • 1 bunch organic Tuscan kale, washed and chopped finely
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300g dried cannellini beans soaked overnight (or 1 can beans)
  • optional 1 handful or two of hard/dry bread of your choice – gluten free or sourdough
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Cook the soaked cannellini beans in lightly salted water with a bay leaf until soft.
  • Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables with fennel seeds and chilli and sauté over low heat for 10 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the cooked beans, stock and kale and allow to simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper and the bread to the soup (if using) and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Top with parmesan cheese and a good slurp of extra virgin olive oil.