Tonight I had the dinner that I made yesterday.  Ribollita is a thick Italian stew that has as many recipes as people who make it.  Some of the recipes have pancetta or bacon.  Some have cabbage (ugh).  I chose this one because I decided that I wanted a vegatarian meal, or nearly so.  I used chicken stock because I always have a ton in the freezer, but it would be every bit as good with vegetable stock.  I know that stew is an odd choice for a June evening, but season aside this is a vegetable stew worth making.  Made of all things that are good for you.

This started out with a search for lacinato kale, also known as Tuscan kale.  I don’t like the texture of curly kale, but I’m hoping to find a leafy green to add to the collard-chard-spinach rotation.  Lacinato is the dark, almost black, color of regular kale, but the leaves are flat.   They feel like collards, but are light enough that you could eat them raw if you wanted if you cut them small.  One of the farmers had some this weekend so I bought two bunches.  I’ve decided that I love it!  It really holds up well in this stew.  Even after cooking for an hour, sitting overnight and being reheated in the microwave it still had some firmness about it.

This is a good stew.  No doubt about that.  I’m not sure that it’s unique enough to require adherence to a recipe though.  I think in its origins this was probably the stew folks made at the end of the week to use up all the stuff that was left – the vegetables and the bread ends.  If you don’t want to add the bread just mash some extra white beans.  Feel free to leave out the sugar if you’re avoiding sugar.  Use whatever dark leafy greens you have.  You can do pretty much whatever you like and be in the spirit of this dish.  I recommend keeping the swirl of olive oil on top of each serving. It adds a richness that makes this just a little bit special.

Whatever you do be prepared to feed a crowd.  I only made a half recipe and I’ll be eating this for a while.  I have no doubt that it freezes well.  Good thing.  We’re coming to the end of the season for dark leafy greens.  It’s getting too hot for them.  Soon enough we’ll be well on to the corn, cucumbers and tomatoes part of the summer.  If you want to give this a try do it asap – or just wait until the lovely kales, collards and chards come back in the Fall.

Good? Yep, yummy and just over 200 calories a bowl.
Easy? Yep. It’s stew – everybody in the pool and simmer.
Good for company? Enough for pretty much everyone you know.
Special shopping? Definitely not.



Note: The recipe below is what I actually made so it’s only a half portion of the original, plus a few veggies.  Click on the recipe title to see the original.
2 1/2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped Tuscan kale
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 quart whole peeled tomatoes (or one 28oz can)
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 ounces day-old Italian or French bread, torn into pieces or made into crumbs


Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add chard and next 8 ingredients (through tomatoes); stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.
Place 1/3 cup beans in a bowl; mash with a fork until smooth. Add mashed beans, remaining beans, and bread to soup; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil evenly over soup.
Note: This really is better the second day so if possible make it a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.


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