I have a well documented love of peasant food (see Castilian garlic soup, and over on our Fiction Kitchen podcast site, Cinderella cassoulet), so of course I adore ribollita which is essentially bean and bread soup. I love foods that are humble and rustic (not to mention cheap), yet with something so elegant in their simplicity.
Although ribollita is typical winter comfort food, this version is completely appropriate for cool and sometimes rainy spring days. It makes use of spring produce like leeks and sweet peas and is just a little brothier and greener than it’s hearty winter counterpart.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for garnish
- 2 medium leeks (white parts only), sliced into half moons
- 2 stalks celery, sliced into half moons
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- salt and pepper
- pinch red chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced into half moons
- handful fresh or frozen sweet peas
- 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence (or just use a mixture of what you have on hand, herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
- 3-4 slices stale bread torn into chunks (or if it’s fresh, you can just toast it)
- olive oil, chopped fresh basil, and freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a soup pot on medium, and saute leeks, celery, and garlic with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper until the leeks are very soft and translucent. Add red chili flakes, paprika, and tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add beans, carrots, peas, Herbs de Provence, and 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so until the carrots are soft. Stir torn bread into the soup, and serve hot, garnished with a good drizzle of olive oil, chopped basil, and lots of fresh grated parm.