Tuscan Vegetable Soup
This is my take on ribollita, which is an Italian vegetable soup with chunks of crusty bread thrown in. And did I mention it is delicious?!
This is my take on Ribollita, which is Italian vegetable soup with chunks of crusty bread thrown in. I throw farro, a grain similar to barley, in the soup instead, or forgo the grain altogether. It is is made with a bunch of different kinds of root vegetables (feel free to mix and match depending on what you like and what you find when you’re shopping) along with butternut squash, which makes it slightly sweet, and really delicious.
WHAT TO DO:
Pour enough oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan to coat it and heat the oil over medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes just to warm it. Add the onion and fennel, season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender, stirring often so they don’t brown. (Lower the heat if they start to brown). Add the carrot, parsnip, turnip, and squash, drizzle with a glug of olive oil, season with 1 teaspoon of the remaining salt, and sauté for about 2 minutes to begin to soften the veggies. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until it’s fragrant but not browning. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute to caramelize it a bit. Add the kale, cabbage, and Parmesan rind, if you’re using it. Dump the tomatoes in. Add 2 cups of water, increase the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the root veggies and squash are tender and the kale has wilted, 15 to 20 minutes, adding more water to make sure there is lots of soupy broth around the veggies. (The broth is my favorite part.) Remove the Parmesan rind and throw it out. Serve the soup topped with the cooked farro, bread, or just like it is, with grated Parmesan on top if you are so inclined.
Serves 4 to 6
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 pounds root vegetables (a mix of carrots, parsnips, and turnips), peeled and diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out and discarded, and diced (or 1 package cubed squash)
3 garlic cloves, grated on a fine microplane or minced
3 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste from a tube (or 6 tablespoons regular canned tomato paste)
½ head green cabbage (preferably Savoy cabbage but any green cabbage will do), cored and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
1 bunch black kale, leaves ripped from ribs and torn into bite-sized pieces (ribs discarded)
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed peeled tomatoes
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup farro, rinsed and cooked, or 2 cups stale bread cubes (both are optional)
I was late to learn the trick to peeling butternut squash, so I will take this moment to tell you: You can peel butternut squash with a vegetable peeler! Yes! No need to risk your fingers trying to hack the peel off with a knife, which I used to do. Of course you could also buy pre-cut squash, which is sold in most grocery stores these days. I made the Parmesan rind optional in case you don’t have one. The Parm rind is what is left from a wedge of Parmesan after you’ve grated away all the cheese; you can also buy them at Italian grocery stores and Whole Foods. The Parm rind gives the soup so much cheese flavor but if you don't have one, your soup will still be yummy. Plus it will be vegan!