First things first, if you’re going to make Anna Jones's Ribollita you need to make your own vegetable stock or buy really good quality fresh stock. You can’t use a cube or a stock pot. I tried and it was a waste of time and ingredients. There’s a small silver lining and it’s that Anna Jones’s Very Lazy Vegetable Stock (ingredients and method included here) is indeed very lazy and takes about ten minutes to make. No simmering and skimming; just boil the kettle and roughly chop some vegetables. I can’t deny that it’s more effort than a cube but this isn’t a quick weeknight dish so if you’ve decided to make it there’s no point skimping on the stock.
Now that’s out of the way, I can say that this is one of my all-time favourite recipes and it always gets good feedback. I can’t imagine using anything besides cavolo nero but ordinary kale works too. I’ve increased the quantities of some ingredients to make the dish go further because the original recipe says it feeds six but I’m greedy and think that it feeds four. With more greens and bread, and a little more potato, carrot and onion it feeds up to eight, which makes all the chopping and stock-making worthwhile.
- 2 large carrots, roughly sliced
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 large leek, roughly sliced
- 2 sticks celery, roughly sliced
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- small bunch fresh thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 black peppercorns
- olive oil
- 3 red onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 sticks celery, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- small bunch fresh parsley, chopped (stalks included)
- 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 tin plum tomatoes (400g)
- 1 tin cannellini beans in water (400g)
- 2 litres vegetable stock (see above)
- 400g cavolo nero, stalks removed and chopped
- stale ciabatta or sourdough bread, cubed (approx 180g)
- extra virgin olive oil, to finish
- Stock: Divide 2 sliced carrots, 1 sliced red onion, 1 sliced leek, 2 sliced sticks of celery, 2 bay leaves, a small bunch of fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 6 black peppercorns between 2 jars (I use 2 1.8 litre Ikea Korken jars) and add 1 litre of freshly boiled water to each jar making sure that there’s a bit of space at the top. Either sieve and use straight away (for a lighter stock) or allow to cool then transfer to the fridge for up to 12 hours. Once sieved, the stock will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
- Ribollita: Place a large saucepan over a medium heat (I use a 6 litre pan) and pour in a little olive oil.
- Fry 3 chopped onions, 2 diced carrots, 6 chopped sticks of celery and 5 chopped cloves of garlic for around 30 minutes until they’ve softened and slightly coloured.
- Add most of a small bunch of chopped parsley and fry for a few minutes then add 1 chopped potato and 1 tin of plum tomatoes to the pan. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and fry for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes the tomato juice will have mostly been absorbed and the vegetables will look quite dry.
- Add 1 tin of cannellini beans to the pan (including the water the beans came in), 2 litres of vegetable stock and 400g chopped cavolo nero or kale. Simmer for around 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and lay the cubes of bread (about 180g) on top of the soup. Drizzle the bread generously with extra virgin olive oil (at least 3 tablespoons) and leave the soup to sit for 10 minutes.
- Stir to combine the ingredients. The soup will have thickened quite a bit. Season well then transfer to bowls, topping with the reserved parsley and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.