This is kind of two posts in one- one for the vegetarian minestrone you make as the base for this dish- and one for baked
ribollita. Ribollita is typically just minestrone with bread added to thicken in, but in this case it’s baked into a casserole with bread and Parmesan pockets. Yum. I liked this minestrone because it’s completely vegetarian, very flavorful, and quicker than others that want a lot of time to develop flavor. Make the soup the day before and serve it for dinner, then assemble the ribollita with the leftover soup and bread, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and bake it the next day for a quick dinner. If you’re skeptical about how the soaked bread will taste, think of a strata or other dish with soaked bread. It’s kind of rich and custardy, not soggy. This recipe comes from The Splendid Table’s What to Have for Supper, and serves 6-8 as soup or ribollita.
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, upper two thirds thinly sliced (including leaves)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping teaspoons sweet paprika
2 heaping teaspoons dried basil
1 T tomato paste
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 portobello mushroom, coarsely chopped
4-6 c vegetable broth
2 c green cabbage, thinly sliced (about half of a small head)
2 stalks Swiss chard or kale, coarsely chopped
handful of spinach, coarsely chopped (optional)
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
1 14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
For the ribollita:
Stale whole grain bread (you want a dense, rustic style)
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, covered, until softened- about 15 minutes. Add paprika and basil and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add zucchini, mushroom, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard and broth and bring to a boil, scraping all the bits off the bottom. Add tomatoes and cannellini beans and cook for 30 minutes, until all the flavors blend. The soup will be pretty thick, but that’s good for ribollita. Thin with more broth or water if you plan to eat it all as soup. Adjust for seasonings and serve.
For the ribollita: you want 1 part bread to 3 parts soup. For 6-8 servings of ribollita, scatter 2 c bread torn into bite-size pieces over the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, about a 9″ x 13″. Ladel 6 cups of soup on top (you want it pretty thick and not with too much broth). Tuck spoonfuls of grated Parmesan into the soup- about 1/2 cup. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring the ribollita to room temperature (I cheated and did that in the microwave). Sprinkle the top with salt (not too much), pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle more Parmesan on top. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes, until bubbling and hot in the center. Uncover dish and bake for 5 more minutes to crisp up the top, then serve hot.