Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee
Ribollita is like a heartier version of minestrone, thickened with bread and redolent with garlic. It is a beautiful soup when it’s fresh from the pot, but it is also perhaps the most noble of leftovers. I like to take a ladleful of soup and reheat it in a hot pan with a little olive oil. When the moisture cooks down, it almost becomes an Italian bean pancake, luscious and just a touch crisp. This is a blatant rip-off, respectfully, of a version I had at Craig Stoll’s Delfina twenty years ago. It was a rainy San Francisco night and we were wedged into one of the tiny tables in the tiny restaurant, the first place that I had ever been to where they told you, upon sitting, what time they needed you to leave in order to accommodate the next reservation. Fortunately this strange instruction was totally compensated by amazingly tender and sensuous food, and we ended up loving every moment of it. We also left on time.
- 8 servings
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, small-diced
- Kosher salt
- 2 large carrots, small-diced
- 3 celery stalks, small-diced
- 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and small-diced (2 cups)
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and thinly sliced
- 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, drained
- Bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves plus a couple sprigs each of fresh sage, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and thyme, tied together with twine
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound cavolo nero (a.k.a. dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale), leaves torn into small pieces, stems finely minced
- 3 cups torn country bread, toasted
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Special Equipment
- 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker
- Place the beans in a large bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Cover the bowl and soak the beans in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, pour the beans and their soaking liquid into a slow cooker. Add enough fresh water to cover the beans by 2 inches, cover with the lid, and cook on the high setting for 4 hours.
- Place a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and when the oil shimmers, add the onion. Season with salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until softened. Add the carrots, celery, butternut squash, and garlic, and cook for 5 more minutes, until starting to soften. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, crushing each one in your hand as you add it. Add the bouquet garni, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 tablespoon of the red pepper flakes. Cook on the low setting for 3 hours.
- Uncover the slow cooker, remove the bouquet garni, and add the kale, bread, 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes. Stir the soup well, season with more salt to taste, and serve with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top.