© David Loftus
my favourite ribollita (la mia ribollita preferita)
Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, tomato, and potato this will help to flavor the beans and soften their skins. Cook until tender taste one to check that theyre 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 chili. 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 cabbage (it will look like loads, but dont 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 winters day with lots and lots of Chianti!
serves: 4 to 6
11 oz zolfini or cannellini beans, fresh, or
dried and soaked overnight
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
a pinch of ground fennel seeds
a pinch of dried red chili
1 14-oz can of good-quality plum tomatoes
11 oz cavolo nero cabbage or kale leaves and stalks, finely sliced
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