I will type the recipe up, embellishing on some of the things that we changed. We made a double batch, but I will type the single batch recipe.
Ingredients:1/2 pound dried white beans, we used Great Northerns
1/4 cup good olive oil (the recipe calls for this, but my mom found Grape seed oil, which is suppose to have huge health benefits. We used that.)
1/4 pound large diced pancetta or smoked bacon (we used turkey bacon, I do not eat pork)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
3 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (we used a lot of fresh ground pepper, and we also added a teaspoon of hot chili paste for a kick!)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (yes, we added these too)
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups sourdough bread, cubed, crusts removed (save those crusts though!)
1/2 cub freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (we enjoy Yoder's shredded aged Parmesan cheese if you can find it; tastes really good)
What to do:
Soak the beans over night, then the next day drain and place in 8 cups of water; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set beans aside to cool; do not get rid of the cooking liquid.
An alternative way to cook the beans is in a crock-pot. Place soaked beans in crock-pot full of water, turn on high and let cook for 6 hours.
Sometimes my family eats just the beans as a supper; add chopped onions, salt, and pepper to the beans and cook. Along side some homemade southern cornbread and some scallions in a glass of water, yum yum !
Ok, now on to the Ribollita; the beans are sitting to the side...
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the pancetta, or turkey bacon in our case, and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups of total liquid. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning.
It was at this point we added a teaspoon of hot chili paste for a kick, and lots more cracked pepper. We also took the left over bread crust, drizzled with grape seed oil, salt and pepper and toasted in the oven until they became crunchy.
We topped our soup with these 'crunchies' and lots of Parmesan cheese.
This soup was so full of flavor, we will definitely do a repeat.