Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recipe 49: Ribolita

This soup is so good it should it come with a warning:  you will want to eat it forever.  And lucky for you, you can!  It makes enough to feed the entire von Trapp family and all their neighbors in the convent.  The hills of your mouth will be alive with delicious.  You may even want to sing about it. It is possibly the best recipe in The Soup Bible (but as I haven't made them all, this is a dubious statement - they are all really good).   As a liquorice h8r, I was dubious about the fennel.  But you know what?  This recipe totally turned my h8r ways bass-ackwards.  Now I love fennel, all thanks to Debra Mayhew & Co.  This is a hearty, delectible, peasant-y soup that freezes well and is great in winter, fall, and even spring!

Question: What is red and green and blue all over? Anser
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 crushed garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced (to fit decently on a soup spoon)
2 zucchini, sliced (sub in one yellow squash for color if you feel so inclined)
14 oz can crushed tomato
2 tbsp pesto
3 ¾ cups vegetable stock/broth
14 oz can of white beans of your choice (recommended are haricot or borlotti, which frankly, are about as easy to find as a snowman in July - save yourself the time and get cannellini )
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb fresh young spinach
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
  • Add the onions, carrots, garlic, celery, and fennel and sauté slowly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add zucchini and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, pesto, stock, & beans.
  • Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Season to your taste.
  • Add spinach to the pot, cover, and wait approximately two minutes until it wilts.  Check seasoning, and serve. Note that the spinach step is a departure; the og recipe calls for you to saute it with olive oil and serve over individual bowls.  I am lazy - this makes more dishes.  It tastes fine with the spinach mixed in. 
  • Best served either over or with a side crusty bread and Parmesan cheese.

Since I am neither a von Trapp nor a convent dwelling nun, what do I do with my massive vat of leftovers? 

I am so glad you asked.  Leftovers from this soup are GREAT for other meals or variations! They can be used for breakfast  (or really any meal) if you put a serving into a frying pan, hollow out a spot, crack an egg on in*, cover and let it poach as the leftovers warm.  YUM.  This variation is also good served with crusty bread and cheese.  

*Disclaimer: I love poached eggs like Lindsay Lohan loves getting arrested.  I especially love them poached in other soupy, flavorful substances, like leftover soupy, flavorful soup.  YUM.  If you don't like poached eggs, I don't like you.  SALTED.

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