Tasty Tuesday–Stale Bread Soup

The actual name of this soup is Ribollita con Verdure, which directly translated means “reboiled [soup] with greens” but in practicality means “stale bread soup with vegetables.” I’d rather just cut to the chase and call it what it is! This is a Tuscan recipe, and if you don’t try it with the raw onions on olive oil on top, you’re really missing out. It’s delicious, and the vegetables make it reasonably healthy, too. The original recipe calls for kale in place of the spinach, but we’re not big kale fans here, so I made a substitution. I must confess, though, that I’ve never been able to make it so thick that the spoon will stand up in it!

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 4 thick slices pancetta (not smoked) or bacon (smoked), or ham, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium, skinny zucchini, cut into thin slices
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups, (about 1/2 pound), chopped or torn stale bread
  • 2 15-ounce small cans Great Northern beans
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and the pancetta, (or bacon or ham), and render 4 minutes. Add rosemary, garlic, 3/4 of the onions, carrots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Saute the veggies 7 to 8 minutes, then add wine and deglaze the pot. Stir in the tomatoes and broth and bring up the heat. When soup boils, reduce to a simmer and stir in bread and beans. Pile the spinach into the pot and wilt into the soup. Simmer the ribollita 5 to 10 minutes, stirring soup as it simmers until it thickens to a dense stew-like consistency. A wooden spoon should be able to stand upright in the pot. Turn off heat, adjust seasonings and ladle into shallow bowls. Top with grated cheese, an additional drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a spoonful of reserved finely chopped raw onions.

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