Sunday, 29 March 2009

La Mia Ribollita Preferita - Jamie Oliver

This Souper Sunday I have taken on Italian Ribollita, via one cheeky English chef. I have to admit I had no feelings for Jamie Oliver one way or the other until his more recent exploits in Italy (Jamie's Great Italian Escape) and then on his own hobby farm (Jamie at Home). I do like these two shows and the books that have come out of them.
This soup is hearty and filling. Very tasty, especially with the addition of shredded cheese on top. We used Pecorino Romano.
Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup whose name literally means "reboiled". Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins. It was originally made by reheating (ie. reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day.
There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannelli beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, zucchini, spinach or silverbeet, cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale)and onion.
- Wiki
My Favourite Ribollita (la mia ribollita preferita), Jamie Oliver
• 310g zolfini or cannellini beans, fresh, or dried and soaked overnight (I used cannellini beans)
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tomato, squashed
• 1 small potato, peeled
• 2 small red onions, peeled
• 2 carrots, peeled
• 3 sticks of celery, trimmed
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
• olive oil
• a pinch of ground fennel seeds
• a pinch of dried red chilli
• 1 x 400g tin of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 310g cavolo nero, leaves and stalks finely sliced (I used half napa cabbage and half spinach)
• 2 large handfuls of good-quality stale bread, torn into chunks
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• the best extra virgin olive oil you can find
Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, tomato and potato – this will help to flavour the beans and soften their skins. Cook until 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.
Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. 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. Stir in the sliced cavolo (it will look like loads, but don’t worry as it will cook down), then moisten the bread 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 salt and pepper and stir in 4 good glugs of good-quality Tuscan extra virgin olive oil before serving to give it a glossy velvety texture. Serve on a cold winter’s day with lots and lots of Chianti!
What Jamie has to say about Ribollita:
There’s often confusion as to what ribollita should actually be like. It’s not like minestrone, as it isn’t brothy and it has no pasta in it. It’s actually more like pappa al pomodoro, as it’s thick and based on bread. It’s very much Italian ‘peasant food’ and would have been eaten a lot in the days of no central heating and lots of hard manual labour. I think this recipe embraces the heart and soul of what peasant cooking is all about – cheap, tasty power food. Please do make it and reheat it the next day – you’ll find the flavours intensify.

Souper Sundays with Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, a comforting way to end the weekend.