I first came across Ribollita at the Chappel beer festival on the wonderful vegetarian food stall run by Leon Lewis. I was boracic as usual so went for the cheapest thing on the stall, despite the fact that a stew with bread and cabbage didn't sound particularly appetising. As you might expect from an Italian recipe it was, of course, delicious. It is a real Italian peasant dish, economical, nutritious and really tasty.
After enjoying this stew three years running at the same festival I eventually begged Leon for the recipe, which is adapted from the Greek stew in his book More Vegetarian Dinner Parties published by Free Range publishing, and I would recommend you get hold of a copy. Inevitably the recipe below has been fiddled about with over the time I've been making it, so go back to Leon's version in the book for a faithful reproduction of the tasty beer sponge I first enjoyed several years ago.
|Half eaten: I waded right in, forgetting I was supposed to take a picture to show you first.|
About four tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
200ml white wine or vegetable stock
1 carrot, chopped into about 1cm chunks and lightly cooked (I usually nuke it in the microwave)
200g cabbage, cut into smallish strips
1 tin of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
A slice or two of stale bread torn into pieces
A tin of cannelini beans
A bunch each of parsley and basil, roughly chopped
A slug of fresh orange juice (it should be bitter orange, but I can't lay my hands on them unless it's January and I've found decent unsweetened stuff is fine)
Pepper and salt
To serve: grated parmesan and a drizzle of tasty olive oil
- Start by frying the onion slowly in the olive oil until it's soft and translucent; this usually takes ten minutes or so; add the garlic for the last few minutes. While this is cooking you might want to cook the carrot.
- Add in the cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cannelini beans, the wine or stock, and the bread.
- Allow this to cook for a while then finally add the parsley, basil and the orange juice.
- Season well and serve in bowls - it's quite sloppy, offering the parmesan and olive oil for people to help themselves.