This recipe is a request from my Aunt Diana. It's not a hard request to fill, because this soup runs right along the lines of my philosphy of simple, but awesome food. Ribollita embodies this by taking simple, inexpensive ingredients and creating something that will make you crave it all the time. This recipe is adapted from "Regional Italian Cuisine" by Hess and Salzer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in authenitic, regional cuisine, plus the pictures are enough to make you drool. This recipe hails from Tuscany and contains the Tuscan standby of white beans. It a dish that is healthy, hearty and easy to make, a winner for sure!
4 ounces or 4 slices of bacon
1 1/4 dried white Great Northern beans
1/2 fresh cabbage
1 small leek
2 stalks celery
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
11 ounces of day-old bread
8 cups of beef or chicken broth (original recipe calls for beef, but I prefer organic chicken broth)
6 tbs olive oil
Soak the beans in water overnight and then in the same water, simmer the beans for 1 1/2 hours.
Finely chop the leek, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and sautee' the bacon and vegetables. Add the stock and thyme. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Thoroughly clean the cabbage and cut it in to chunks and thick slices. Add to the other ingrediants in the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes. With a food processor, puree half of the cooked beans. Add the bean puree and the whole cooked beans to the pot and bring to a boil once more before serving. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Serve with toasted bread slices.
I've been known to use canned beans in this and many other recipes for that matter. As long as you buy good quality beans and rinse them well, they should be fine to substitute for the dried white beans.