The days are getting longer, and after the blizzard of 2016, I think we are all ready for Spring. As I was returning from walking the dogs earlier today, I saw a first sign.
I’m so glad I planted these teardrops last fall. How nice to see a Spring flower − a sign of things to come − when the sky is dark and the trees are bare. We’re not there yet, however. There is still plenty of time to enjoy a few more pots of soup.
We eat a lot of soup, especially in winter. So, I’m always looking for something new to try. Years ago my husband and I attended an Italian cooking class where one of the featured dishes was Ribollita. To be honest I wasn’t that enamored with it. It seemed to contain some broth, some over-cooked vegetables, and a chunk of some kind of meat that, after stewing for hours, tasted like it had seen better days. Not a good start for my future with Ribollita, until I discovered a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine that featured Italian sausage. I had to try it out, and I’m so glad I did.
Ribollita means reboiled in Italian. This soup, from Tuscany, is traditionally made the day before it is to be served. I don’t know what sort of magic happens while this soup is sitting in the fridge overnight, but the difference in taste the next day is amazing. It’s definitely okay to eat it the day you make it, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t save some for the next day.
Ribollita is usually made with bread. I decided to skip the bread for a lower carb version. If you want a heartier soup, prepare some slices of Italian bread by toasting them and brushing them with olive oil. Place the toasts in each serving bowl and pour the soup over the top of them.
This soup is on the spicy side. Vary the amount of heat by cutting the amount of crushed red pepper flakes in half or eliminating them all together. Or, if you really like to spice it up double the amount of pepper flakes or use hot Italian sausage in place of mild.
1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup dry red wine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 anchovy filets, packed in oil, drained and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
8 cups beef stock or broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 ounces parmesan or grana padano, shaved
Use your hands to crumble the sausage in a bowl and then thoroughly mix it with the wine to create a paste. Cook the mixture in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, anchovies, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, but still retain their shape, about 20 minutes.
Add kale, tomatoes, beans, and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The kale should offer no resistance when bitten into.
Stir in the vinegar. When ready to serve, place soup in bowls and top generously with cheese shavings.
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, February 2015