A Sort of Ribollita with Parsley Pesto

January 20, 2011 § 10 Comments

There are few things in our garden that have survived bugs, disease, dogs, and squirrels this year, but one of them is the chard.  Chard is a bitter green leafy thing that is supposed to be abounding in vitamins. (don’t you love my scientific approach?) So, this morning we (myself and two “cold!” kids that refused to put on warmer clothes OR shoes) went out to the garden and cut what chard was ready to be eaten.

After a good rinse, it was ready to go. Into something. I just didn’t know what.  I also had a bag of navy beans staring me in the face saying “I’m nutritious, cheap and filling, if somewhat boring”, and dinner needed to be full of just that type of ingredient.   So, I took a trip over to this lady’s site and found her recipe for Ribollita (a “reboiled” Italian stew that is thickened with stale bread).  I could us the chard instead of the cavolo nero (a dark kale from Tuscany), the navy beans, and a little bit of Susan’s bread to thicken the mix. Perfect.  Oh! And this recipe called for water instead of any kind of broth, meaning, cheaper to make. Exciting!

About half way through the cooking process I knew I was going to need something to add a little zing to this dish, so I decided to make a pesto to swirl into the top of each bowl when I served it.  This is something I love to do with soup. Herb pesto could be one of my favorite things to make. It’s so aromatic and green and tasty, I usually have the ingredients already here, and you can fudge on the proportions.  I made a parsley pesto b/c that was what I had to use, but try whatever you like/have. I think basil or cilantro would work well.

So how did it go over? I, of course, loved it. (I did pick all the flavors.)  My husband liked it, pretty well.  My kids’ responses varied from tears at the thought of having to even put it in their mouths, to willing to eat it, but only b/c we had some yummy bread to help it out.  This is not new or unexpected, but I’ve pretty much decided, while I’m not going to cook things that I KNOW they will hate, I’m not going to worry about it that much either.  I mean, I’m not trying to be snotty, but they aren’t doing the cooking.  And It’s food Vince and I like.  They won’t die.

Ribollita (almost like 101 cookbooks)with Parsley Pesto

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, chopped

3 medium carrots

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups Swiss Chard, stems trimmed off and chopped, and leaves well chopped

4 cups  cooked white beans

8 cups of water

2 cups crustless bread torn into bite-size pieces

1 1/2+ teaspoons fine grain sea salt or kosher salt

zest and juice of one lemon


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the celery, garlic, carrot, onion, and chard stems, letting them sweat for about 12 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook for 10 more minutes.  Now, add the chard, 3/4 of the beans, and the water.  Let simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the chard becomes tender. While you wait, mash the remaining beans with a fork or spoon in a bowl.  Add the mashed beans and the bread and cook 15 more minutes, letting the bread break down and the soup thicken. Add the salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Serve with a dollop of pesto on top.

Parsley Pesto by me

1 cup of parsley, big stems removed

1 big garlic clove

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts, or pecans, or, or….)

Put all of that in a food processor or blender and chop until everything is chopped fine.  Then add:

2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 olive oil

Mix until it looks grainy.

Add salt if you like.


§ 10 Responses to A Sort of Ribollita with Parsley Pesto

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