(photo courtesy of SFGate)
This week’s Sunday paper had a drool-worthy section of soup recipes, including a recipe for Ribollita, which is a Tuscan soup with bread in the bottom of the bowl, and a rind of Parmesan simmered within. It sounded perfect for a rainy evening, and I wanted to try it. But when I looked more closely at the recipe, I decided I wasn’t so sure. 3 cans of beans is a lot of beans for a soup, and I’m not that fond of kale. So I thought I’d look and see if Giada had a version I might try. What do you know, she did! So I went ahead and followed her recipe, with the exception of the bread. Instead of slicing bread and putting it into the bottom of the soup bowl, I cut it into bite sized chunks, and then toasted those. They were too small to be worth rubbing garlic on, so I omitted that step. I also used fresh spinach instead of frozen, and I used 4 cups of broth rather than 3, and just cooked it down longer. I tried taking pictures, but they came out crappy and blurry, so I took the picture from the article that inspired me, since it was even better than the picture of Giada’s soup.
This soup was really good. Very filling, and the smell of the Parmesan simmering in the soup perfumed the house in such a lovely, wintry way. Now if only it had rained yesterday, the way they promised it would. I know, those of you who don’t live in a drought stricken state couldn’t care less if it rains or not, as long as it doesn’t blizzard or flood. But around here, it’s getting serious, and it seems like every big storm or series of storms we’ve been promised this year has fizzled out. Make that 3 years. Anyway, back to the soup. Really yummy, really warm and cozy. And pretty darned easy, too. Here’s Giada’s recipe, without my changes.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling on bread
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, 1 minced and 1 whole
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained
- 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan rind
- 4 to 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise or 1 loaf, sliced
- Grated Parmesan, for serving
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Add the spinach, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Drizzle the ciabatta halves with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.