Anything which is considered peasant food I seem to love. It seems silly that things like lamb shanks and short ribs were once considered undesirable cuts of meat, but it is true. This sort of comfort food is so delicious, but generally fairly heavy. Well, ribollita, this classic Tuscan peasant soup, is a truly healthy comfort food.
The common base between all the many versions of ribollita is beans, a cabbage and stale bread. I used savoy cabbage since I was able to find some beautiful local stuff, but the original recipe calls for a black kale which would give the soup a lovely contrasting colour I think.
Ribollita Recipe(serves 6)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Soak the beans over night and discard water. (You can substitute canned beans or fresh beans as well but you will need to modify the steps accordingly.) Cover the beans with water and add the bay leaf, potato and tomato. Simmer lightly until beans are cooked and set aside, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid but discarding bay, tomato and potato.
In a large soup pot heat oil and sweat onions, celery, carrots and garlic along with the fennel and chilies. Sweat until nice and soft but not browned, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Add beans with 1/2 of their cooking liquid. Moisten the stale bread with the remaining liquid and add the bread to the soup as well as the cabbage. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring regularly. It should be thick but moist, you can add the remaining liquid or not if desired. Add salt and pepper to season. Serve hot and drizzled with olive oil.