A couple of years ago, I was flipping through Jennifer Perillo’s book Homemade with Love. Based on her book, Jennifer seems to be the kind of cook with a innately practical approach to cooking at home. Her mushroom Bolognese is one of my favorite week-night dishes to make, and her simple beef spezzatino streamlines the beef stew-making process without sacrificing flavor.
A rainy day would be perfect for her version of ribollita, a rustic Italian soup. Ribollita uses bread to soak up broth and thicken the soup, which makes it taste heartier; a little more like a stew. Since it's been a stormy week, I wanted to give it a try. But then reality hit: I was short on bread, but I did have small pasta shells. I also had 2 cups of frozen stock, cans of beans and tomatoes, some kale, an old Parmesan rind, some parsley. I always have at least one onion and a head of garlic around. And because the news reporters were urging people not to leave the house unless they needed to (something about a pineapple express paying San Francisco a visit?) I realized that I wouldn't be making Jennifer's ribollita at all. Instead, let’s call it minestrone.
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots,sliced crosswise
3 celery stalks, sliced crosswise
1 yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 (13.5-ounce) can diced San Marzano tomatoes and juices
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1 bunch lacinato kale, sliced crosswise, tough stalk ends removed
1 cup chunky pasta, such as shells or rigatoni
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Parmesan cheese (or something like Tomme), for shaving on top
Sourdough bread, for serving
- Heat the oil in a pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened but not caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with a few pinches of salt and a generous grinding of pepper. (A pinch of red pepper flakes is nice, too.)
- Pour in the stock, stir in the tomatoes, and bring to a near boil. Lower to a simmer and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Taste, adding more salt if it tastes underseasoned. (If using unseasoned stock or water, you will probably want to add more salt at this point.)
- Stir in the chickpeas and simmer for 5 more minutes. If the soup looks very thick, fill the tomato can halfway with water and pour into the pot.
- Bring the pot to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat and stir in the kale and pasta. Lower to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. With a vegetable peeler, shave curls of Parmesan over the top. I also like to drizzle a little olive oil on top, too. The soup will be thick, with a little rich red broth. If you prefer a brothy soup, thin it with stock or water and bring to a boil before serving. Serve with bread on the side.