Thursday, May 17, 2007


This week’s soup is a classic Italian dish, Ribollita from the river Café Cook Book (Blue), I’ve never made or eaten this before so was looking forward to seeing what it is like. Note that I couldn’t find any Cavolo Nero & don’t know if you can even buy it here at all, so according to the book I have substituted with silverbeet but I am no longer authentic.
Also I used beans in a can so you can see I am a real cheat, sorry but I just cant be bothered with all of that soaking when the tins taste pretty good to me & can cater to my sometimes lazy streak. I halved the quantities & still got 6 good sized servings jam packed full of veggies – I left mine quite thick with not much liquid at all. Oh and one other thing, you will need a bloody big pot even if making only a half serve! In the end you have a good hearty soup for a cold Winters night, the silverbeet gives it a particular earthy flavour & the bread a nice and unusual texture.


Serves 10

250g cannellini or borlotti beans, soaked overnight with 2 tablespoons of bicarb of soda (or use a tin & cheat as I did)
1 large tomato
½ bulb garlic
a handful of fresh sage leaves

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
2 whole heads celery, chopped
450g carrots, peeled & chopped
4 medium red onions, peeled & chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 800g tin peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
2kg cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (or sub with swiss chard/silverbeet, savoy cabbage, kale, broccoli or rape leaves)
2 loaves stale ciabatta bread, crusts removed, sliced or torn
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Drain the beans well (and rinse if from a tin), place in a saucepan, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain again. Pour in enough fresh water to cover by about 5cm, then add the tomato, garlic bulb & sage. Return to the boil & simmer, covered, occasionally removing any scum that comes to the surface, until tender, which can very from 40 minutes to 1 ½ hours (or considerably less if from a tin). Keep the beans in the water they’re cooked in.

In a large saucepan fry the parsley leaves, garlic, celery, carrot and onion in the oil for about 30 minutes until the flavours combine. Add the tomatoes & continue to cook on a gentle heat for a further 30 minutes, then add the cavolo nero and half the cannellini beans with enough of their liquid to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In a food processor, puree the remaining beans and return to the soup with just enough boiling water to make the soup liquid. Add the bread, a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, and season well with salt & pepper. As exact amounts are not possible, you must balance the amount of liquid to bread so that the soup is very thick.


The Gourmand said...

Hi Ange,
I too love River Cafe. They have been a major influnce in my cooking. I used to make the River Cafe "ribollita", but now I make it using what ever is at hand or what ever tickles my tastebuds. Some versions can be found here or here. I use canned beans as well, much easier!
I have found Cavolo Nero at organic stores or my local market (Prahran Market). You can get it year round but only buy it during winter or early spring, when its at its best.

kitchen hand said...

There's really no such thing as authentic; recipes vary by the village. It looks delicious. Bring on soup season!

Ange said...

Seems like whenever I need something it is available from the Prahran Market, problem is with a small bub I need to find somewhere closer to home (Brunswick), I find nowadays its not always that convenient to get to the 'other side' of town just to buy food, will have to keep searching, so far Vic market is closest

shanny said...

I just made this soup for my first time last night and it was divine! More glogs of extra virgin olive oil the better!
My calvo nero got eaten by the white butterfly caterpillars so I substituted it with 300g of spinich and it tasted great. I'll have to get my hands on some calvo nero so that I may taste how the original should be...unfortunately its allot harder to get in NZ than UK if you don't grow it yourself :-(