Friday, October 19, 2012

Southern-Style Ribollita

I've been battling a head cold this week. You know the kind-- super congestion, fatigue, and general unpleasantness. While that might super-suck, it's also the perfect time to make a soup that's basically a bowl full of health and vitamins. Note: Whenever I say vitamins in my head, I always pronounce it I'm British. That is how the Brits say it, right?

Is it feed a cold, starve a fever? Because if this is what you're feeding your cold it's not gonna stick around. Does that make sense? This is my riff on an Italian peasant soup, ribollita. Ribollita simply means reboiled and is thickened with pieces of hearty bread. 

For the soup you'll need: A can of whole tomatoes, collards, chicken broth, black-eyed peas, bread, bacon, celery, onions, garlic, carrots, and a Parmesan rind if you have it. If not you can certainly add a handful of grated Parmesan at the end.

Start by frying your bacon in the bottom of a soup pot. Do your best not to char it (unlike me). When it's good and brown drain the bacon on a paper towel.

Add the celery, onions, garlic, and carrot to the bacon grease. Cook over medium heat until the veggies are tender. I don't mind the celery and carrots having a little bite to them.

Add the tomatoes with the juice and mash them right in the pot. You could give them a whirl in a food processor, but I think it's easier (i.e., less dishes) if you just use a potato masher.

Let the tomatoes cook with the veggies for about 10 minutes.

Stir in your collards and let them cook down a few minutes before adding anything else. It won't take long but they do have a way of filling up the pot at first. Note: To slice the collards into ribbons, I first run a knife down either end of the fibrous stalk to free the leaves. Then I stack the leaves on top of each other and starting at one long end, roll the leaves tightly. Use a sharp knife to slice across the length of the roll to create pretty ribbons.

After a few minutes add in the black-eyed peas, chicken broth, and the cheese rind if you're using it.

Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover it and let it cook until the peas are tender, about 40 minutes.

Take the crust off the bread and cut it into cubes. It's easiest to use a serrated knife to cut bread.

Add the bread to the pot and stir it in. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer another 10 minutes or so to thicken.

And you've got a beautiful(?), fragrant soup. Psst, now's the time to crumble the bacon back in the soup.

Soup with bread in it clearly needs more be dipped in it.

A little hot sauce rounds out the flavors. Beans (legumes?) and greens always take to a little hot sauce. Hot pepper vinegar would probably be a fine substitute, but you know I like to reach for my Crystal hot sauce.

It's hearty without being heavy. Warm and comforting and just right for when you're under the weather or just want to be under the covers.


Southern-Style Ribollita (serves 6)

2 slices thick-cut bacon
2 1/2 c diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 c chopped celery
1 1/2 c chopped carrots
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 bunch collards, sliced in ribbons
4 c chicken broth (vegetable may be substituted)
3 c frozen black-eyed peas
1 Parmesan rind (can substitute cheese at the end)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 1/2 c cubed country bread, crusts removed
Hot sauce (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and crispy, flipping occasionally. Remove the bacon and let it drain on a paper towel. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the tomatoes with the juices to the pot and mash with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Cook 8-10 minutes. Add the collards and cook them down another 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, black-eyed peas, and the Parmesan rind if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook under peas are tender, about 40 minutes. 
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the bread and stir until the bread is submerged and starting to dissolve into the broth. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. Crumble bacon into the finished soup and serve with hot sauce and grated Parmesan if using.

No comments:

Post a Comment