The typical Tuscan soup Ribollita has all it takes to become the new trend for winter’s coldest months. A traditional superfood like porridge that is just waiting to be rediscovered and surf the wave of what’s truly contemporary in food trends. Lets analyze why we are about to fall in love with the “ribollita”.
Nowadays the nouvelle vague of local produce and genuine ingredients associated with an increased pleasure in traditional home cooking is perfectly aligned with the Tuscan wisdom of “non buttar via niente” (don’t throw away anything) and of giving new life to leftovers. Greatly sustainable, you must admit.
Ribollita literally means “reboiled”, in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best. Its origins seem to latch back to medieval times when the servants were given the azyme bread in which the meat of the nobility was served on and they boiled it in a soup with vegetables and herbs found in surrounding fields. The quantities were large and lasted for several days, hence boiling the soup over and over with the result of being it tastier each time.
It is very difficult to define what should be in a Ribollita, because the entire idea behind it is to reboil the ingredients you have at your disposal, but - as the tradition led on - three main ingredients became a must: Tuscan bread, cannellini beans and Tuscan kale, a vegetable that can be found only in winter. In fact it really must be freezing out if you want to make the Ribollita since ice makes the kale leaves softer and easier to cook.
Canellini beans are the right ones to use, but borlotti beans can do as well. No meat is a diktat everyone agrees upon, although some recipes include bacon, the original is based on vegetables only and was a common dish for lent. Which means a good Ribollita sounds great after a yoga lesson.
Tomatoes are a bit tricky, some like to add them to give color and the right acidity, some argue that they should not be included in the recipe because tomatoes were introduced in Europe after Columbus’ discovery of the Americas (1492) and the soup is antecedent to that. As everything Tuscan, it depends on the lot of land you have under your feet.
To add flavour, you have to add a touch of thyme and spices, Tuscan extravirgin olive oil, thin slices of chive and you are set.
Those who tend to invent new recipes merely based on what they have in their fridge will surely appreciate the Ribollita, a homemade recipe that was perfected out of necessity and that took a long time before ending up in a book with the name “Zuppa Toscana di magro alla Contadina” (Tuscan no-meat soup of the farmer).
Ready to plough the fields or fierce enough to conquer the urban winter, a traditional superfood with a touch of Tuscany will let you do just that.