Aida here from Salt & Wind with another edition of Global Kitchen. This time we’re talking Tuscan food because it’s one of the corners of the globe I hold closest to my heart.
I lived in Florence for a few years and ever since, those classic Tuscan recipes have become some of my ultimate comfort food dishes. Yes, Florence is a totally chic town, but its roots are 100% rustic and there’s nowhere that’s more evident than in the food.
So many of the iconic Tuscan dishes are rooted in cucina povera — a style of peasant food that’s all about making the most of what you have in your pantry — and that cooking translates well for no-fuss weeknight cooking.
In the middle of the winter, I go for comfort foods like stews, roasts, and soups. One that’s so simple, but so satisfying is Ribollita. Ribollita, minestrone’s more sophisticated, interesting cousin, is a vegetable soup made mostly to use up stale bread. But in that genius way that is so Tuscan, there is a lot of flavor in this humble soup.
The name means “reboiled” because it’s essentially a twice-cooked soup where you make it, let it cool down, and then reheat it the next day (a step that produces a lot of good flavor).
As you can imagine, this recipe only gets better the longer it sits, so it’s natural to use my KitchenAid® Slow Cooker, which has 24-hour programmability and an automatic keep warm mode.
One of the key ingredients are the white kidney beans known as cannellini beans. You can use the canned version in a pinch, but the slow cooker makes cooking dried beans really easy, so I recommend you go that route.
To start it out, cover dried cannellini beans with water then place them in the refrigerator to soak anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Once they’re soaked, rinse them off, and add them to the Slow Cooker.
Season the beans by adding in a few sprigs of rosemary, a few cloves of garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. Top with 8 cups of water or low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or until beans are tender but not mushy.
Remove the rosemary and the garlic and reserve 2 cups of cooked beans. Use a KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender on high to blend the remaining beans into the cooking liquid until smooth. The Cordless Hand Blender is so convenient because I’m not tied to my electrical outlet and is still just as powerful as a KitchenAid® corded hand blender.
Add the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, potatoes, tomatoes, parmesan rind, halved garlic head, a pinch of dried chili flakes (optional), and a drizzle of olive oil to the Slow Cooker. Simmer on high-heat setting until all the ingredients are soft, but not mushy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on high-heat setting or 8 to 10 hours on low-heat setting.
Add the bread and stir until it’s broken down. If you use diced bread, it will make for a more rustic soup. You can also use 2 to 4 cups of unseasoned breadcrumbs for a thickened soup that has a more uniform texture.
At this point you have a few choices. For a more traditional take, let the soup cool down, refrigerate it overnight, then warm it over low heat before serving. Otherwise, add the kale and cabbage and reserved beans and stir. Most recipes have you add the kale or cabbage at the start, but I like to add it just a couple minutes before serving so that it’s just a tad wilted, but not overcooked.
Once it’s done, serve it with additional olive oil, parmesan cheese, and chili flakes (optional). There’s nothing more perfect than this soup for company, especially if you’re looking for something to feed houseguests while you prep a big holiday meal. It’s satisfying, healthy, and really easy to make!
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Makes 8-12 servings
1 1/2 cups cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, plus 1 head garlic halved
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for garnish
8 cups water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme
28 ounces tomatoes, diced
1 pinch dried chili flakes (optional), plus more for garnish
Rind of parmesan, plus grated cheese for garnish
4 cups cubed day-old ciabbata bread or 2 to 4 cups of unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 bunch dinosaur kale, stemmed and chopped
1/2 small Napa or Kool cabbage, chopped
Place beans in a large bowl and cover with a few inches of water. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours to soak. Drain beans then rinse.
Once the beans are soaked, place them in your KitchenAid® Slow Cooker and top with 2 sprigs of rosemary, 4 garlic cloves, and 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Cover with water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and cook on the low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on the high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or until beans are tender, but not mushy. When you blow on the beans, their skins should come off easily but they shouldn’t be mushy.
Discard rosemary and garlic and reserve 2 cups of the beans for later. Use a KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender to blend the remaining beans into the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook and stir about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
Turn the Slow Cooker to the high-heat setting then add in the onions, carrots, celery, potato, tomatoes, thyme, pinch of dried chili flakes, and a parmesan rind. Cover and cook about 1 hour more or until vegetables are soft and the soup has thickened slightly. Add the bread (or breadcrumbs) and stir to incorporate. If desired, to meld the flavors, cool soup; cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
To serve, reheat the soup in the Slow Cooker over the low-heat setting, stir in the reserved beans, kale, and cabbage. Cook until the greens are just wilted, about 10 minutes. Serve topped with additional olive oil, grated cheese, and chili flakes (optional).
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*