This post is about a soup. Although it might sound boring it is actually a perfect example of the sort of cooking we like to do. We think this is exciting and we want to celebrate it.
Soups in Italy remain an important part of home cooking. In La Cucina there are over a hundred pages filled with soup recipes from all over the country. There are soups with all kinds of meat and fish; rice, pasta and bread; eggs and cheeses; vegetables and herbs; beans, nuts and pulses. They may not be all to our taste – anyone for tripe and bean soup? – but they certainly put our selection of tinned soups to shame!
The soup in our November pop up restaurant was Ribollita. Translated it means ‘re-boiled’ and it is a good example of a Tuscan peasant soup which can be made the day before and then reheated. It has a rich, hearty and earthy quality which makes it a great dish at this time of year.
It has a sofrito base of carrots, onions, garlic and celery. To that you add fresh parsley, celery leaves and tomatoes. Three important ingredients are cannellini beans, stale bread and cavolo nero.
Cavolo nero or black kale has a strong unique flavour. It is available in some supermarkets but we sourced ours from Heeley City Farm. Italians say the taste and texture are even better after the first frost of winter. We were lucky then as we had frost just a few days before the ones we used were harvested at the farm. The dried cannellini beans were soaked overnight then cooked separately with bay leaves, tomatoes and garlic before being added to the soup.
I researched different recipes some of which included the addition of pancetta, chilli, fennel seeds or parmesan. Although I’m sure these would work I decided to stick with the classic recipe because I wanted to keep the flavours as authentic as possible.
Making it the day before intensifies the flavour so if you can plan ahead it’s worth doing. The other trick is to be very generous with the best quality olive oil when serving.
The soup was popular on the night and we got wonderful feedback from the customers. We’ll have soups on the menu for all our future pop ups and hopefully they’ll be as successful as this.