Most Italians, particularly Tuscans, have their own take on ribollita, bread soup. This one is mine, inspired from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi as published in his book Plenty. It is vegan, but honestly no meat eater would pay any notice to this fact. Hearty and warming, it makes a wonderful lunch. You can substitute white beans for the chickpeas. Greens also make a nice addition. I sometimes throw in a handful of chopped kale near the end of the cooking time if I have some lying around.
Serves 4 generously.
- 1 yellow onion, diced.
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced.
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
- olive oil.
- 1 big carrot, peeled and sliced into thin half moons; quartered if the carrot is especially fat.
- 2-3 celery stalks, diced.
- 1 cup (250ml) white wine.
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
- 1 – 14oz (375-500 ml) can diced tomatoes. Do not drain.
- fresh herbs: oregano, Italian parsley, thyme, rosemary. Finely chop the leaves into a good sized heap that looks like it equals about 5 tablespoons.
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock; with extra in reserve.
- 2 slices of sourdough bread, hard crust removed.
- 1 – 14oz can of chickpeas or 2 cups home cooked.
- pesto, either store bought or homemade. Can be basil or some other herby green mix.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and fennel and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. If they start to brown too quickly, lower the heat.
- Add the carrots, celery and garlic. Continue cooking until the carrots begin to soften, another 5 minutes or so. Stir to make sure nothing sticks. Add more olive oil if the pan appears dry.
- Stir in tomato paste and heat for a minute.
- Add wine and cook off the alcohol, about 2 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, herbs and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for half an hour.
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Tear the bread into largish chunks with your hands and toss with some olive oil and salt. Distribute the bread onto a baking tray or sheet pan and bake until dried out. About 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Place the drained chickpeas into a bowl and mash gently with a potato masher, leaving some of them whole. Add to the soup and cook a few minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and throw them away.
- Just before you are ready to serve, add the bread to the pot and cook another five minutes.
- Add more stock if the soup is bit too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Ladle out the soup and top each bowl with a spoonful of pesto.