It’s a great kale season at the moment and one of my favourite ways to eat it is in Ribollita! More of a stew than a soup, this dish is delicious and comforting but also super healthy and a great way to make use of autumnal vegetables. Traditionally, ribollita is made from leftover minestrone and the name means “reboiled”. So I guess this isn’t really a ribollita in the truest sense of the word, but the description works for me.
I also got hold of some fresh borlotti beans at the growers market this week, and used those instead of my usual dried and pressure cooked ones. The difference was amazing – they held their texture perfectly, and tasted delicious. You can use pretty much any white bean that is in season at the moment – I’ve used borlotti, cannelini, white kidney, and butter beans and they all work equally well. You could probably stretch it to black-eyed peas as well if you wanted to, although I’d tweak the spices to give it more of a southern/cajun flavour in that case.
I cooked this on a Monday after our annual Eurovision party. My excellent friends Edie and Gordo host a themed party every year that is mandatory costumes, food and drinks from the host nation, and the Eurovision final on big screen display. It’s a …ahem…*festive* occasion, so the next day always calls for some sleeping in and comfort food. Ribollita to the rescue!
If you’ve never cooked fresh borlotti beans, pod them, rinse, and add to a pan of cold water. Bring them to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes. They will lose their variegated colours when cooked which is a shame, but they still taste great. The jury is out on salting beans while cooking – some say it makes them tough, some say it gives them flavour. I didn’t salt these as I knew they were going into a flavourful soup, but go with your instincts.
3 cloves garlic
2 long red chillies
1 tsp paprika
1.5 cups cooked borlotti beans
1 large zucchini
2 medium carrots
Half a bunch of kale (washed and shredded)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
Tahini or cream to finish
Grainy bread to crumble through soup.
Pod the borlotti beans and cook as directed above. Dice the leek, and chop the garlic and chillies. Saute in olive oil until lightly coloured. Chop the carrots and add to the pot, stirring in with a sprinkle of sea salt and the paprika. Add the cooked borlotti beans, diced tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a mellow boil and then cover and lower the heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for approx 10 mins and add the zucchini and kale. Cook for a further 5 or so minutes until zucchini is tender, and remove from the heat.
I love to serve this with a spoon of tahini stirred through to add a creamy nuttiness. Toast and butter some grainy bread. Ribollita is traditionally served with chunks of bread in the soup, so this is a great way to eat it as well.
This soup will carry you through the winter — or at least a sleepy Monday or two…