Monday, December 21, 2009

Ribollita


The other day when I was making the filling for the manicotti I took to my parents', I used only the leaves of the gai lan and yui choy. Normally (in stir fries, for instance) I chop up the stems and use those too, but I wanted my filling to be soft and leafy, not chunky. If you're familiar with gai lan (and if you're not you should seek some out because it's one of the tastiest greens around), you'll know that the stems are very thick and substantial, so what I ended up doing was making a batch of vegetable broth of which these stems were a major component. That was a success. It's probably the best broth I've ever made, and that's what I used in this soup. You could make it with water instead of broth, but the broth really does add taste and depth.

The recipe is online here, but I've adapted it to two servings and made a few other small changes. I've left the cooking times per the recipe, but I found I only needed about half that time. The toast at the bottom of the bowl is a nice touch, though in my opinion dumplings would have been even better—though, of course, not as quick or easy, which the rest of this soup certainly is.

Ribollita (4-6 servings)
adapted from Vegan Planet
Serves 2

1/2 small head green cabbage, quartered and cored
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced celeriac or 1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, in small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp tomato paste blended with 1/2 cup warm water (I used a small handful of reconstituted dried tomatoes instead)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked white beans (borlotti, cannellini, garbanzo, etc.)
2 thick slices Italian bread or bread of your choice, toasted

Cut the cabbage into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celeriac or celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, potatoes, diluted tomato paste, stock, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, then taste and adjust the seasonings.

To serve, place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl and ladle hot soup over the bread. Serve immediately.

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