Meatless Monday: Ribolitta – Italian Comfort Food

RibolittaOld man winter has been keeping his chilly grip on things for quite a while now it seems. This kind of cold makes me think about making a hearty soup to make me feel all warm inside. There is something about soup that makes me feel loved and comforted. It’s not just the eating of it, it’s the process of shopping for all the ingredients, carefully picking out all the perfect vegetables, herbs and spices and gathering and chopping them into the proper size chunks. And let’s not forget to pick up a crusty “gum scraping” Italian bread (my personal favorite is the whole grain Italian from Calandra’s Bakery in Newark). Add some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds (Whole Foods has them) and it all adds up to one of my family favorites, Ribollita. Ribollita in Italian means reheated, but that definition translated into English just doesn’t do it any justice. The word dances trippingly off the tongue in Italian “Rib-o-llita”, almost like calling a beautiful womans’ name. OK, maybe I am getting a little carried away, I was in Italy last year and yearn to return.  But once you prepare this wonderful soup for your family and taste it for yourself, well…you’ll see, you might book a trip to Italy yourself, but don’t blame me. You could have just made the soup, come on!

Ribollita  Soup

2 cups Cannellini beans canned or soaked dry beans according to instructions on bag

2 carrots diced

2 ribs celery diced

2 large potatoes diced

4 medium zucchini diced

1 leek chopped

2 bunches kale chopped

1 head savoy cabbage chopped

4 fresh tomatoes chopped or 1 large can tomatoes chopped

4 to 5 rinds of Parmegiano Reggiano (Whole Foods)

1 quart water

1 box organic vegetable broth

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 clove garlic minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 bay leaves

pinch of basil and oregano

Crusty whole grain Italian baguette torn into rustic style pieces

Place the olive oil in an 8 quart soup pot and add onions and cook till translucent then add, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, zucchini and leek. Stir and cook for 5 more minutes. Then add water,vegetable broth, Parmigiano rinds, tomatoes, Savoy cabbage and kale, basil, oregano and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Add beans and salt and pepper to taste. Also add the Italian bread and let it sit until bread softens. Mangia!

Michele Errichetti is from South Jersey born and fed. She comes from an Italian family where they eat, live, and breathe FOOD. Michele was cooking and eating under her grandmom’s feet every Sunday for “gravy” and at home with her mother (a Medigan or American) during the week. Nowadays, she cooks for her two sons, husband, and father most days of the week. She takes “Girl Road Trips” with her friends at least once a month that always culminate with you guessed it, FOOD. She hopes fresh, local, organic, and free range will become the norm. Michele is searching Atlantic County for everything that has anything to do with good food and she’s taking you along for the ride.