There’s an old saying “man proposes and God disposes” and that was so true for our weekend. We had planned a great outdoor BBQ over Labor Day weekend as the last hoorah of summer, but we were shut out thanks to TS Gordon. Usually in Florida afternoon storms just roll right through with the aid of ocean breezes, but not when the tropics are in flux. Depending on the system, it can linger and soak everything to the core even if it’s just a named tropical storm. Scrapping our cookout, I craved a nice bowl of hot soup, a blanket and a good movie. Using pantry and staple items, I decided to make a pot of Tuscan Ribollita soup. This soup is hearty, filling, satisfying and so packed with flavor! What’s more comforting than a bowl of soup to warm you up?
HERE’S HOW I MADE IT
Start by setting out all of your ingredients and get them prepped and ready to go. You can’t see the fresh tomatoes or the white wine, but shown below are most of the ingredients. Rinse and drain both cans of white beans. I used navy in this instance. Blitz one can in a food processor with a little broth and set aside. This will help thicken the soup later. Rinse and drain the other can of beans and set it aside as well. These will be added whole.
Coat the bottom of a heavy pot or Dutch oven with a little olive oil and sauté the diced ham over medium to high heat. You can also use bacon or pancetta. When golden, remove from the pan and set aside.
Tip: Diced ham is a staple item at home. Perfect for quick omelets, quiches, pastas and soups.
Add a little olive oil and sauté the diced celery, onions, carrots and bay leaves over medium heat until translucent. Once they have cooked down, add garlic, thyme, rosemary, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes.
Note: Since ham doesn’t release a lot of fat like bacon, I added a little more olive oil for the vegetables. If you used bacon or pancetta, you should have sufficient fat for the vegetables.
Add the reserved whole beans to the vegetables and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, white wine, reserved pureed beans, reserved ham, baby spinach or kale, bay leaves, dash of nutmeg and Parmesan rind. Bring to temperature then reduce the heat and simmer all the ingredients for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Tip: Whenever adding greens like spinach or kale, a little nutmeg enhances the flavors.
During this time, cut some crusty, day-old French bread into croutons. Lightly coat then with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. Shave some Parmesan cheese on a small plate and set aside.
Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves prior to serving. Ladle the soup into your bowl, top with toasted croutons, sprinkle the cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Once the bread soaks up the delicious broth, it becomes this thick rich meal that warms you from the inside out. This is one of my favorite hearty soups. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!
Tuscan Ribollita Soup
This is a great hearty soup that can be served as a first course or a meal. I always make extra to enjoy the following day.
- 2 cans cannellini or small white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 quarts chicken stock or broth
- olive oil to coat the pan
- 1 8-oz package diced ham substitute with bacon or pancetta
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary)
- 1 cup canned chopped tomato with liquid
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 large bay leaf (or two smaller ones)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 rind Parmesan cheese
- 1 large bunch or bag of baby spinach or kale
- pinch of nutmeg
- Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
- 1 loaf crusty bread torn in pieces and toasted
Rinse and drain a can of bean and puree with some chicken stock in a food processor or blender. This will be added back into the soup as a thickener. Rinse and drain the second can of beans and set aside whole.
Coat the stock pot with olive oil and sauté the ham over medium to high heat until it begins to brown. Remove and set aside.
Note: If cooking bacon or pancetta, omit the added oil in the stock pot.
If needed, add a little more olive oil to to pot and sauté the onions, celery and carrots. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently.
Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes.
Note: I finely mince the garlic with the thyme and rosemary.
Add the reserved whole beans to the stock pot and sauté the beans with the vegetables for a few minutes. This will allow the beans to absorb all those flavors.
Add the chicken stock, white wine, tomatoes, reserved bean puree, reserved ham, baby spinach or chopped kale, nutmeg and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmers and cook for 30-45 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.
Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves. Taste and reseason, if needed.
I don't like to add a lot of salt since the ham is salty and the cheese is salty. Remember you can always add, but you can't remove it. If using unsalted chicken stock, you will need to increase the salt in the recipe and adjust to taste.
While the soup is simmering, cut some crusty French bread into bite size crouton pieces, toss with some olive oil and toast in a 350° oven for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Grate some Parmesan cheese and set it aside.
When the croutons are ready, ladle some soup into your bowl, top with some croutons and sprinkle a generous amount of cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil for extra richness. Enjoy!
Depending on how hungry your crowd is, the recipe yields 6-8 servings.