From Tuscany, Phaidon Press, 2010.
This recipe comes from the area around Siena in Italy. I remember the last time I visited Siena with part wonder and part anxiety for we had taken over long admiring the wonderful cathedral and only had a few minutes left to catch our tour bus or be left behind. In the hurry to reach the bus stop we took a wrong turn and became totally lost. Thank goodness for maps on the iPad. With the map and by running up endless steps we managed to arrive just in time.
I soaked 250g haricot beans overnight to be ready to go ahead making the ribollita. The next day they were drained and placed in a pot of water to cook for about 40 minutes.
While the beans were cooking I prepared the vegetables. I chopped ½ onion, a celery stick and 2 carrots. I diced a potato. I sliced 2 zucchini. These all went into a large saucepan in which 2 tablespoons of olive oil had been heated. They were now let cook for half an hour at a very low heat. They were stirred every so often.
I now sliced a couple of leaves of rainbow chard, a couple of leaves of cavolo nero and about ¼ of a Savoy cabbage. These went into the vegetable mix with a little salt. They were stirred to mix everything, the lid went on and they were cooked for a couple more minutes.
The beans were drained and the liquid saved. Half of the beans were pressed through a sieve and the bean puree was stirred into the cooking vegetables. The saved liquid was also added. The vegetables were now simmered for another hour.
It was now time to add the remaining beans together with a good handful of chopped parsley. The mixture was simmered for another hour. Salt and freshly ground black pepper were added to taste and the soup/stew was ready to serve.
In the serving bowl I laid a slice of toasted sourdough bread. The soup was ladled over this, then another slice of toast and a further ladle of soup. Olive oil was dribbled over. It was let stand for a minute or two to let the bread soften and it was ready to eat.
There was a lot of cooking time involved in this but it was worth it for the flavours of the vegetables seem to intensify. Added to this you have the taste of the toast. It was richly satisfying, comforting food. And, the next day when it was finished off, it was even better.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔