I recently dined at King, a restaurant in NYC. The meal was delicious and warming. The dishes were uncomplicated - just the type of food I want to enjoy when I eat out. One hearty dish which really stood out was the ribollita, which is a Tuscan bean and tomato bread stew. It was dense and crispy and belly warming. I wanted to create something similar at home, minus the bread. Yes, I am aware that it is hard to omit the bread in a bread stew. Yet, with the inspiration intact, my bread stew morphed into a hearty tomato and bean soup, heavy on the kale, with the addition of potato to add some density and texture. Just what my belly asked for in the dark days of winter.
This recipe is a mash up of the Ribollita from Bon Appetit and Tomato Bean Soup from the New York Times.
Tomato, kale, and white bean soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large onion, diced
3 medium carrots, chopped ( I go large for Jack)
2 celery ribs, sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small russet potato, diced
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
2 bunches Tuscan kale, leaves removed from stem and thinly sliced
1 small wedge of Parmesan with rind
1 bay leaf
1 14-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken/vegetable broth
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
White balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the paprika, basil, oregano, and thyme and toast spices for 30 seconds. Next add the tomato paste and allow to meld with the spices for 1 minute. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and 1 tsp salt. Coat vegetables in spice mixture and cook for 8 minutes.
Open can or jar of tomatoes and drain over a large bowl. You will add the liquid to the soup, so make sure you reserve it. Using your hands, crush the whole tomatoes catching the juices in the bowl. Add the crushed tomatoes, potato, and garlic to the pot and continue cooking for 10 minutes more, allowing the flavors to meld together.
Add tomato liquid, 3 cups broth, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf and cook for 45 minutes or until carrots and potato are tender. Next add in the beans and sliced kale in batches, allowing kale to wilt. Cook another 10 minutes more. Ladle into bowls, making sure to remove bay leaf and parm rind. Top with red pepper flakes, freshly grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil and splash of white balsamic vinegar.