My lovely Mum bought me the Australian Womens Weekly Slow Cooker Cook Book for Christmas (Thanks Mum! I love you!) and I immediately wanted to cook this. Perfect New Year's food with lots of lovely antioxidants (the vits stay in the food in slow cooking as there's nowhere for them to evaporate to) and just delicious with it. Ribollita in the slow cooker is a keeper. The name means "reboiled" by the way and it traditionally involved reheating a minestrone and adding in some bread and some coarser vegetables....the cabbage and beans are key.
I've called it the pauper's version because the original recipe involved a large ham hock which I didn't have in so replaced with two good quality ham stock cubes and I used spring greens instead of cavolo nero which brought the cost down still further. The original recipe was supposed to be good peasant fare so, although purists will gasp, I think the modern thrifty Tuscan housewife might forgive me.
Ingredients for 6:
4 rashers of bacon, ideally smoked, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped finely
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g / 14 oz tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dried rosemary (or use 2 whole sprigs fresh and remove at end)
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 good quality ham stock cubes (I used Knorr)
2 litres / 8 cups water
400 g / 12 oz cavolo nero, Swiss chard or spring greens, coarsely sliced
400 g / 14 oz tin of cannellini beans
200 g fresh leaf spinach (optional - I threw it in because it was in the fridge but it was great)
250 g / 1/2 lb good sour dough bread or garlic ciabatta to serve
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (optional - I didn't have any but AWW recommended it)
40 g / 1/2 cup Parmesan, shaved (use a potato peeler)
Combine everything up to the water in the slow cooker and cook on Low for 8 hours.
Turn your slow cooker to High. Add your beans and greens of whatever sort you are using to the slow cooker. Cook for a further 20 minutes or so. The soup is ready once the greens have wilted.
(If you want to use a ham hock, use a 1 kg / 2 lb hock instead of the stock cubes and remove it after the 8 hours. Shred the meat finely while the greens are cooking and add back into the soup for the last 5 minutes to reheat, discarding the fat, skin and bone.)
I served this with garlic bread but you are supposed if you are being authentic to tear some sour dough into a bowl and ladle the soup over the top. That also sounds great. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the bowl.
How can anything this healthy be so tasty? Or so easy? Although the ingredient list looks long, it only took 10 minutes to throw together. It really was just fantastic. All the different vegetable flavours came through and the cabbage was sweet and, cooked like this, just perfectly done. My husband was just as enthusiastic about it. This is not girl food or summer food, just because it has vegetables in it and the beans made it nice and filling. This we will eat again.