01 March, 2010

Ribollita-Inspired Bean Stew


Ribollita is a Tuscan peasant soup. It means "reboiled". The original version is vegan. Tuscan peasants used to make a stew-like soup by reboiling minestrone leftovers from the day before.
My soup is not vegan, in fact, I added bacon and cheese. But it is pretty much reboiled.
I had this idea for the soup when my fridge needed some veggie-clean-out. Apart from that, I kept frozen homemade chicken stock in the freezer, normally to be used if someone in our family gets a cold or flu. Chicken soup is often the only thing that goes down well, and it actually helps with the recovery. Blame me on feeding my family the right stuff and making sure that everyone gets enough fresh air and exercise, no-one has had a proper cold or flu this winter. So the chicken stock was just taking up too much space.
Another statement: I don't believe in canned food. Even beans and lentils I rather soak and cook it myself. The canned ones always fall apart as soon as one touches them, let alone use them for cooking. Tomato sauces I make every other day anyway, as my son is going through a pasta-and-tomato-sauce-for-dinner phase....
So here I am, stirring this bean stew together from scratch, using homemade ingredients only. I almost felt like a Tuscan peasant.... And my husband looked like a very happy Tuscan peasant too, when I served it for dinner!

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RIBOLLITA-INSPIRED BEAN STEW


The Beans
1 cup dried white beans

Tomato Base
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Bean Stew
4 oz (100g) chopped or cubed bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped
300g fresh spinach leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Serves 4
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Soak white beans in water overnight, or for at least 4 hours. After soaking, boil them in slightly salted water for about 30 minutes. Make sure not to overcook them. They should remain a bit of a bite.  Set aside.

In a deep pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic  and fry until onion is golden. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a big soup pan, fry the bacon cubes over medium heat. Once they start releasing the fat, stir in onions, garlic, and carrots. Fry for about 5 minutes or until onion is golden and bacon becomes crisp. Add the tomato mixture and stir while bringing to a boil. Now add chicken stock, beans, spinach and cheese. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Bring to boil again, then let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve with Ciabatta bread.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right, beans & veggies in cans are way too soft. This stew looks great. I too would go with the bacon and cheese for body and flavor. I toss together tomato sauces all the time...taste so much better than jarred ones. xo

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