There are few things I like better to make on Sundays than soups and stews. OK, actually, there really isn’t anything I’d rather make, though roasted meats are right up there. I could easily eat soup every single day of my life and never get sick of it. The bonus is it’s usually not too terrible for you (assuming you aren’t making a very creamy soup) and is so incredibly easy to make. The dutch oven/stockpot does all the work for you. The combinations are endless, too.
I’d remembered a recipe for ribollita from Ina that I had wanted to make, but when I saw Giada’s version, I decided to go with it, instead. I was definitely not disappointed. This soup was so hearty and flavorful. And any soup that calls for putting half a roll of bread into your bowl is a hit in my book, especially because that means I can eat the other half of the roll, on the side. :)
I used bacon instead of pancetta in this recipe because I had half a package sitting in my fridge. To compensate for the fattier bacon (and because I think the amount of oil is a little excessive anyway), I reduced the amount of olive oil to a tablespoon. Combined with the fat the bacon had rendered, it was the perfect amount. I also increased the amount of broth in this and next time, I would definitely reduce the amount of spinach. I have that reflected in the recipe below. I love spinach but 1 lb. was just too much for this amount of broth and it definitely was not all necessary. It made the soup a little too thick and well, too spinach-y.
This was a really tasty, really comforting soup that I will absolutely make again. The leftovers were just as fabulous even without the bread.
Makes 4 large or 6 smaller servings
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, divided – 2 minced and 1 whole
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind
1 (heaping) Tbsp. herbs de Provence
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and pepper
4-6 ciabatta (or other) rolls, halved lengthwise
olive oil, for drizzling onto bread
parmesan, for serving
Heat a stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil and once hot, the bacon. Cook until the bacon has rendered most of its fat and become slightly crispy. Reduce the heat to medium, and then stir in the onion, carrot, 2 cloves of minced garlic & saute until tender.
Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute before adding the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Add the bay leaf, parmesan rind, herbs de Provence, cannellini beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer for about 10 more minutes, reseasoning to taste if necessary.
Preheat the broiler, and drizzle a little olive oil over each halved roll. Stick under the broiler until toasted. Immediately rub each piece of bread with the whole garlic clove.
Place half a roll in the bottom of each bowl, and then ladle the soup over it. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.