Friday, July 3, 2009


My visits to the green market have become more common with advanced planning and effort. I try to plan a menu of sorts for half the week, finding recipes for what I know is in season and available at the market (and finding the occasional surprise that can shift my plans in a really wonderful way). Sometimes, however, a dinner invitation or party or something will come up, leaving beautiful vegetables to wilt or fresh baked bread to get hard. When this happens, I discovered a great recipe that uses less than fresh items and turns them into a delicious Italian "peasant" soup: Ribollita.

(adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1/2 pound dried white beans, like cannellini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 pound smoked bacon
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 28oz can plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups stale bread cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl cover beans with water, with 1" of extra water, soak in fridge overnight. Drain beans, then place in a large pot with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. Add a bit of salt and simmer for 15 more minutes. Take off heat and set aside (don't drain the beans yet).

In a large stockpot, cook bacon (I was lucky enough to get mine at Loveless Cafe in Nashville- super smokey!) and onions over low heat for 10 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and puree, kale, and basil and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the beans, but save the cooking liquid. Puree half the beans with a little of their liquid in the food processor. Add to the stockpot along with remaining whole beans. Pour two cups of the bean cooking liquid and six cups of chicken broth into the stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Add bread cubes to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve in large bowls, grate lots of Parmesan on top and drizzle with olive oil. Serves 6-8 and is even better as a left over the next day. Add some more stock or water if it gets too thick after being stored.

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