I still can’t get over the fact that it’s already the middle of September. I am at once appalled at how quickly time is passing (where does it go??) and delighted that Fall is on it’s way. In celebration, I made soup.
In all honesty, it was still like 75 degrees outside and only slightly drizzly when I cooked up this hearty Chickpea Ribollita. Definitely a day that was more conducive to grilling out or enjoying tomatoes, corn, and other seasonally appropriate produce in abundance this time of year. But it just felt like a soup day, you know?
Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Ribollita is a thick, hearty Tuscan vegetable stew, traditionally made with day-old bread and cannellini beans. Up until recently, I’d never even heard of ribollita and I’m still not convinced I’m pronouncing it right. And this, despite those 20 diligent minutes I recently spent on Duolingo.com, desperately trying to learn some Italian before we travel to Italy and I want to eat everything but don’t know how to express that sentiment in the local tongue.
Anyway, I first became familiar with ribollita when I came across a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty (one of my very favorite cookbooks) for a chickpea and bread soup, his version of the classic ribollita. I was immediately intrigued. After making his version a couple of times, I started to play around with it a little bit, making some adjustments here and there to suit my veggie fixation, lack of a robust and ever-bountiful herb garden, and streak of impatience.
This soup is everything a soup should be. Hearty and filling, big chunks of vegetables, and a flavorful broth. The day-old, dried bread melts into the soup, adding thickness and a creamy texture, while keeping the whole thing vegan. It also comes together with minimal prep work and has a surprisingly short cook time for a soup that feels like it’s been simmering away on the stove all day.
Ask me again in February and I’ll deny ever rushing into soup season. But for now, I’m perfectly happy with this decision. And this Chickpea Ribollita.
Now, if only I could say all that in Italian.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 fennel bulb
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 5 cups vegetable stalk
- 3 thick slices sourdough bread, crusts removed
- 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas
- basil pesto, for serving (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Slice the onion, fennel, carrots, and celery. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions and fennel. Cook for a few minutes and then add the carrot and celery, cooking for another few minutes or until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so it simmers. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, roughly tear the bread into bite-sized chunks and toss with the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper on a large baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-20 minutes or until thoroughly dry. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Once the soup has been simmering for about half an hour, add the chickpeas and dried bread to the pot and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon to smash some of the chickpeas against the side of the pot. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve with basil pesto, if desired.