Ribollito is essentially a vegetable stew with cavolo nero, using fridge staples, old crusty bread and any canned goods you’ve got lying around. It is so healthy, hearty and warming and a perfect way to use up leftovers. White beans are traditionally used but I’ve also previously added rissoni, orzo or other pasta if it’s what I happened to have on hand. It can also be topped with crispy bacon or diced pancetta and use chicken stock, if you prefer a meatier version.
Serves 2 | Vegetarian | Cooking Time 45 minutes
1 large onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely sliced
1 large fennel bulb, finely sliced (can sub. celery)
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
2 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp chilli flakes
150ml white wine
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1l vegetable stock
300g cavolo nero, roughly chopped, stalks removed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ load crusty old bread (about 400g)
150g pecorino or parmesan, grated preserving the rind
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4.
Begin by preparing the sofrito - finely chop the onion, carrots and fennel. Peel and bash the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy knife.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a deep saucepan and add the veg with 2 tsp of salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened but not browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the cavolo nero by roughly breaking up the leaves and discarding the hardy stalks. Strain the tomatoes into a colander set over a bowl, making sure you save the strained juices and use your hands to break up the tomatoes into small pieces.
When the vegetables have softened, add the tomato puree, thyme and spices, frying for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes until evaporated.
Add the strained tomato and bring to a simmer. Increase the heat and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop from burning on the bottom of the pan. Allow the flavours to develop and caramelise into a thick and jammy base.
Pour in the strained tomato juice, veg stock, and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, scraping all the veg from the bottom of the pan. If it starts to over reduce, add a little more water to loosen.
Roughly tear the bread into large chunks and spread half of it on a baking tray, with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss all the bread to coat. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the bread has completely dried out and turned crispy and golden.
When the ribollito base is ready, add cavolo nero in batches, allowing it to wilt in between additions. Add the cannellini beans and rest of the bread, stirring to warm through and thicken, about 5 minutes. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper.
Ladle the ribollito into bowls and top with the toasted bread, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lots of grated parmesan.