When I think of an amazing meal, more often than not it’s Italian-inspired. I could eat simple pasta with marinara almost every night, and I continuously turn towards fresh garlic, parmesan and basil. In fact, I am almost certain my two basil plants are in cahoots to take over the entire kitchen at the rate they’ve flourished. As much as I love Italian meals, I always have to round them-out with a fresh slice of warm bread, or garlic bread if we’re feeling festive. But somehow, most of that fresh bakery baguette seems to go stale before I can use it up. As much as I love pasta, I love making large pots of homemade soup, and think it’s such an open platform to get creative in the kitchen. Filling & easy to make all in one dish, so it’s perfect for a busy holiday weekend. I have always had a soft spot for classic tomato soup, and so the stars-aligned this night …. One baguette of stale sourdough, can of San Marzano tomatoes, and a year’s supply of fresh basil later, and we’re on our way to one palatable pot of Italian Bread Soup (Or Ribollita as it’s known in Tuscany). This is one of the most flavorful & comforting meals I can think of, so it’s a must share & must make on a cold night this winter.
It may seem a little off to add bread into a hot pot of swirling-soup, as it would soften & sink into the abyss. In this case however, our bread will not be a measly top-layer crouton garnish, but we’re using it to thicken our brew, and shine as the main ingredient, adding texture, flavor and consistency. Ribollita literally translates to ‘reboiled’ and this Italian soup dates back to peasant origin as far back as the Middle Ages, when stale bread was boiled with leftover food/soups to make the next day’s meal. This soup is rustic, texture-rich, healthy, and full of aromatic ingredients that marry together flawlessly. I want to book a flight to Tuscany this very second just thinking about it! Though, my Visa will probably appreciate me just sticking with a cup of the soup…
- 1- 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, whole, reserve juice
- 4 oz canned tomato paste
- 1- 16 oz can cannellini beans, reserve juice
- 4 strips thick bacon, chopped
- 2 cups sweet white onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrot, peeled & chopped finely
- 1.25 cups zuchinni, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2- 32 oz cartons chicken stock, low sodium
- 5 cups, stale sourdough bread, no crusts, cubed. (may need to slightly toast if not stale)
- ¼ cup dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- hard wedge of parmesan cheese (for shredding on top of soup)
- sliced basil
- In large dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil & cook chopped bacon until crisp, draining on paper towels, but reserving all grease in pan.
- To pot with grease, add chopped onion, pinch of salt, and sauté until tender (~5 min)
- Add chopped carrot and ¼ cup white wine, sauté (~5 min).
- Then add chopped zucchini & garlic, and continue to sauté adding black & red pepper until tender, stirring frequently (~10 min).
- Remove tomatoes from can, reserving juice & chop them roughly.
- Add chopped tomatoes & their juice to soup pot, simmer on medium-low.
- While simmering, open and drain can of beans, reserving fluid.
- In food processor puree half of the can of beans into a paste and add into soup, adding other half of whole beans & the remaining fluid.
- Stir to combine, add chopped basil, 5 cups of the chicken stock, bringing all to a low boil, then reducing heat to low, and simmering (~30 min, but this can simmer longer).
- Cube stale, sourdough loaf/baguette to ~2.5" cubes, removing most of crusts (If not stale, toast in oven with a little olive oil for several minutes to dry-out more).
- About 10 minutes before serving add cubed bread and crisped bacon, let simmer on low ~10 min.
- Add additional stock as needed if soup is too thick after adding the bread.
- Let simmer & check for salt & pepper levels, add more to taste.
- Serve warm with freshly shredded parmesan cheese & basil on top.
Add more basil to your taste
This one is great with freshly grated parmesan cheese and will thicken when stored in the refrigerator, just add stock when reheating as needed.
This is pretty simple & pretty perfect for the family and/or a small gathering, and goes well alongside classic Cesar or spinach salad…aaaaand you’re done! Well, don’t forget a good bottle of Sangiovese or Chianti while you’re at it. I made a big batch and unlike most dishes I make, this time we ate all of the leftovers without needing to freeze any….I love when that happens! Since leftover bread soup will thicken as the bread absorbs more liquid in the fridge, you can easily add more chicken stock & reheat slowly on the stove to serve again. If you do find yourself with refrigerated leftovers, on the second night you can opt to leave the thickened soup as-is, and serve ragu-style, over mini penne pasta with ample amounts of freshly shredded parmesan. It is an awesome pasta sauce alternative!
It tastes so rich, hard to think it’s healthy, but indeed our beans offer lots of fiber. The tomatoes, garlic, basil, zucchini & carrot offer ample antioxidants, and bread… well…. that offers delicious without having to add any dairy to thicken this. I use pancetta or chopped thick bacon to season the soup, but you can omit this and substitute some butter in the initial sauté. The bacon goes so well, I think BLT’s all over the nation will be jealous with Italian soup envy…
I hope you get together with family & friends, and enjoy your impending holidays with a large pot of something delicious too…
Buon Appetito!Pin It