Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Solstice Soup - Ribollita

Farmers markets are now overflowing with spring and summer's early bounty. Recently Exeutive Chef Christopher Albrecht shared recipes, cooking samples and tips with a happy local crowd at the Princeton Public Library. Chef Albrecht oversees several fine Princeton eateries including Eno Terra,dedicated to fine cuisine sourced locally, popular Mediteranee, and Princeton's premiere artisan-bread baking shoppe -- Witherspoon Bread.

The erudite Chef wowed everyone with samples of a wonderful Ribollita. It's a slow cooked, luscious soup...all at once hearty and light, comforting and complex, with memorable depth of flavor.

Depending on your locale, you can substitute any greens now abundant in the NE with cabbage – or any other leafy veggies currently plentiful in your area.

Although the traditional recipe calls for Tuscan white bread – choose sourdough bread to aid digestibility and add nutty flavor. With sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are already broken down into more digestible simple sugars and protein is broken down into amino acids. The enzymes that develop during proofing are not lost in baking process, also contributing to this bread's easy digestibility.

It’s the fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, that makes eating good
quality sourdough bread an aid to digestion, helping to optimize the functioning of the digestive tract, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.


Ribollita means reboiled. Traditionally, ribollita is a bread-thickened vegetable soup. There are many variations. You can modify it according to seasonality and locale.

1 cup cannellini beans, uncooked
1 large red onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 potatoes, diced
10 zucchini, diced
1 ½ cup swiss chard, shredded
1 leek
4 garlic scapes
1 tuscan kale shredded
1 mustard green shredded
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 day old stale Tuscan white bread (traditional), or
“ Sourdough bread
Thyme and bay leaf
Basil puree (optional)

1.Soak the beans overnight and then cook over low heat. It will take approximately 1 -1 ½ hours for them to cook.
2.In a pan, gently fry the onion. Add the other vegetables, with the exception of the greens and beans which are added at a later point. When the vegetables have sweated out their juice, add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 minutes. Then cover with hot water and then add all the cabbage,kale and greens. Cover and simmer for an hour over medium heat.
3.Add the cooked beans (some of them whole and some pureed), salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently because the beans tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.
4.Slice the stale bread and, in an earthenware casserole, combine the bread with the soup until the bread is soaked. Let rest for one day.
5.To serve remove the desired quantity from the casserole and reheat it, or “re-boil” it, as the name in Italian suggests. If adding the basil incorporate just before serving.


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