image found hereMy brother-in-law and his wife are vegetarians on their way to being vegans, so I tried out this soup for one of the dinners we shared together during our Christmas visit with the family. I couldn't get my husband to try it (since the other choice included meat!), but I thought this was delicious. It was also a great way to use the two-day-old baguette we had in the kitchen.
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound kale (lacinato or Tuscan are best), stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
4 cups cooked white beans
1/2 pound crustless loaf of bread
1 1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon (I didn't use this-it was good before I threw it in and I didn't want to mess things up!)
well-chopped black olives, optional
In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion. Cook for 10-15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the kale, 3 cups of beans, and 8 cups water (I used 6 cups water and 2 cups vegetarian stock). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water - until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20-30 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.
Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or "ribollita" meaning reboiled, the next day ladeled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.
Makes a large pot - enough for at least 8!