Lidia’s Ribollita,”Adapted from Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen, recipe by Lidia Bastianich
This is a great way to use some of those winter share vegetables but it does take some time. Don’t let that or the list of ingredients deter you- this is an amazing soup, delicious, hearty and completely satisfying. The bean-based stock makes this a completely vegetarian soup- make sure to soak your beans and drain them thoroughly before cooking them. You should have plenty of soup to eat and to freeze.
3 cups dried cannellini (white kidney) beans
8 cups cold water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the soup
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound kale, washed and cut into1/2-inch strips (about 8 cups)
4 cups green or Savoy cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 8 ounces)
1/2 pound Swiss chard leaves washed and cut into1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, with leaves, chopped (about 1 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces day-old country bread, crusts removed
1 medium red onion, chopped
Dump the beans into a 2- to 3-quart container and pour in enough cold water to cover them by at least 4 inches. Let soak in a cool place at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain thoroughly. (Alternatively you may quick-soak the beans as follows: Place the beans in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil, boil 1 minute, and remove from the heat. Let stand 1 hour, then drain and continue with the recipe.)
Pour 8 cups of cold water into a 4- to 5-quart pot and add the beans. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to simmering, and cook until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Fish out the tender beans from the cooking liquid with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, and cool them as described on page 91. Put about three-quarters of them into a food-processor bowl or blender. Add a ladle or two of the cooking liquid and process the beans until smooth. Stir the bean puree into the cooking liquid. Set aside the remaining whole beans.
Heat the oil in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Stir the tomato paste and 1/2 cup water together in a small bowl, and stir into the wilted onions. Pour in the bean puree, then add the kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Pour in the beans and their cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to simmering. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook 45 minutes. Let rest at least 30 minutes, or cool completely and refrigerate until the next day.
Stir the bread into the soup. Taste, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Cook until thickened and dense, about 30 minutes, or longer if the soup has been refrigerated. Remove from the heat, stir well, and let stand about 15 minutes before serving. Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Sprinkle some of the chopped red onion over each serving and drizzle a little olive oil on top.
To reheat leftover ribollita in the oven: preheat the oven to 400° F. Ladle the soup into individual 10- to 12-ounce ovenproof crocks (French onion-soup crocks work well). Scatter some of the chopped onion over each serving. Drizzle a little olive oil over each, set the crocks on a sturdy baking sheet, and bake until the soup is bubbling around the edges and the onions are golden, about 20 minutes. Let the crocks of soup rest about 5 minutes before serving.