Good to the Last Slice: Vegetarian Ribollita Soup

Vegetarian ribollita soup is just as satisfying as the meaty traditional version.

| February/March 2012

  • Along with leftover bread and vegetables, cannellini beans are a classic ingredient in ribollita soup.

Traditionally, ribollita soup is prepared with pancetta or another cured pork product. To lighten the recipe, I removed the pork and find it just as satisfying. This vegetarian ribollita soup recipe uses prepared vegetable stock. Commercial vegetable stock often contains large amounts of sodium, so either use a trusted brand or taste prior to using in this recipe. Add salt to soup as needed. SERVES 6 TO 8

• 1 can cannellini beans
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 cup finely chopped carrots
• 1 cup finely chopped celery
• 1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
• 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, plus 1 garlic clove, bruised with the back of chef’s knife
• 2 cups crushed tomatoes
• 6 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup water
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
• 4 cups finely chopped Tuscan kale
• 8 1/2-inch slices day-old Italian loaf bread
• Pecorino Romano cheese, for topping

1. Drain and rinse beans; set aside. In a medium-size stockpot or Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and 2 garlic cloves and sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until vegetables are softened and fragrant. Add tomatoes, broth, water, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and paprika and increase heat to high. When soup begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add reserved beans, oregano and kale; continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and taste; add salt if needed (see notes above).

3. While ribollita soup is resting, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bread slices on cookie sheet and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Holding clove with your fingers, rub the top of each slice with bruised garlic clove; discard garlic or scatter pieces of clove on each slice. Toast for about 7 minutes.

4. To serve soup, place a slice of bread in the bottom of a soup bowl; ladle soup on top of bread. With a vegetable peeler, peel a few thin slices of cheese on top of each bowl of ribollita soup.

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