the weather is only just beginning to turn in london but i’ve been making soups for a couple of weeks now.
an early bunch of cavolo nero and ribollita is what started me off. i’ve been using a sky gyngell recipe which calls for farro in place of stale bread as she prefers this version. the faro is what really appealed but when i was making the first batch i realised i didn’t have any so had to make do with broken up pieces of pasta.
having made a few batches, with both farro and pasta i’ve realised that it’s the pasta version that i like best (although i haven’t tried it with bread just yet – perhaps this weekend, given i have more cavolo nero in my fridge).
i’ve also been experimenting with stock and , if you’re not vegetarian i really recommend making this with chicken stock. it adds a wonderful extra layer of flavour and the silky texture is just unbeatable.
the final thing that you really must do is drizzle your soup with your favourite olive oil. i love planeta (c£12 a bottle so not prohibitive if you keep it for treats like this) and its fresh grassy flavour goes wonderfully with the ribollita.
i fancy trying other soups which have this same sort of feel. minestrone is an obvious one, but harira and chorba are also on my list – any t&t recipes would be very welcome!
skye gyngell’s ribollita (serves 6-8)
400g dried cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight (i use tinned)
about 3 litres water (i prefer to use homemade chicken stock)
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 celery sticks, chopped (i omit this as david isn’t keen, usually adding diced courgette for extra vegetable content)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
small bunch of sage
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
150g farro, well rinsed under cold water (i prefer to use a similar amount of dried pasta)
400g jar good quality peeled plum tomatoes
bunch of cavolo nero, thick stalks removed, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, preferably tuscan, to serve
(omit this stage if using a tin of cooked beans) drain the beans and place them in a heavy-based saucepan. pour on about two litres of water to cover generously and cook over a low heat until the beans are soft, about one and a half hours. drain and set aside.
heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a separate cooking pot (large enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably) over a low heat. add the onions, dried chilli and a pinch of salt. sweat gently until the onions are soft and translucent. now add the celery, carrots, garlic, sage, potatoes and farro (if using pasta do not add it at this stage). cook for a couple of minutes to allow the heat to begin to release the flavours of the vegetables, then add the tomatoes. cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.
stir in the cooked beans, then cover with about one litre of water – just enough for a thick brothy base in which the vegetables can cook properly. add the cavolo nero and reduce the heat to low. cover and cook for a further hour until the vegetables are really soft (adding the pasta 10-15 minutes before the end, if you are using it). add a generous pinch of salt and few good grindings of black pepper.
remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. let the ribollita stand for a couple of hours – this will improve the flavour no end. to serve, reheat the soup. taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. turn up the heat to emulsify, then ladle into warm bowls.