Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soup, soup, glorious soup!

Today is the first official day of Autumn. But I have felt “Fall” in the air for the past month. There’s a certain crispness in the morning, a smell in the air, and a tinge of color in the leaves that signals that God’s earth is preparing for another slumber.

With autumn my “kitchen” thoughts shift from salads and barbeque to savory casseroles and soups.

One of my favorite warm, comforting soup recipes is for “Bread Soup” (or in Italian, ribollita). I first tasted this wonderful frugal meal-in-a-bowl at an outdoor bistro in Florence, Italy. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I feel is a pretty close cousin to that amazing Tuscan meal:

Ribollita (Bread Soup)
12 oz. dry cannellini beans
1 medium onion finely chopped

2 stalks of celery finely chopped
3 medium carrots finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 cups shredded kale

*8 slices good-quality dry rustic bread
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Place the beans in a large stock pot with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn off the heat, cover the pot and let sit for one hour. This step takes the place of the traditional overnight soak for cooking dried beans.

2. In a medium saute pan cook the onion, celery, and carrot in 1/3 cup olive oil until the onion is softened and translucent.

3. Stir the sauted vegetables, canned tomatoes, and garlic into the stock pot with the soaked beans. Let simmer over a low heat for about 2 hours or until the beans are tender (test with a fork).

4. Once cooked, remove half the beans and broth and puree in a blender.

5. Return the pureed beans to the pot. Stir in the shredded kale and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch pieces and add it to the soup.

7. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

     *a dense, chewy artisan bread such as Italian, ciabatta

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