Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuscan Ribollita - Reinventing Soup and Yourself

Chicken Broth, Cannellini Beans
Featured Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Cannellini Beans

Ribollita is the pinnacle leftover soup.  In fact Ribolitta in Italian means twice cooked or reboiled.  The concept being it tastes better the next day.  I'd say this is also true for other Italian dishes, like lasagna and tiramisu. As I recall from culinary school, ribolitta is a Tuscan dish that was basically created from leftover minestrone. Thus reinventing it  into another meal.

I felt a little like Ribollita last night.  I went to a speed networking event in Manhattan.  It's like speed dating for the underemployed. It was actually a lot of fun.  Your mission is to condense who you are, what you do, what are your goals in 2 minutes or less.  If you have 20 years of history under your belt, are looking to change careers and are tackling a couple of key projects at the moment it's not that easy.  The good thing is it forces you to self edit.  I'm not the best at interviews, as I'm not the most articulate person on the fly so the practice was good.  I think that is why I am most comfortable behind a keyboard, or quite honestly with paper and pencil in hand.  As you met each potential contact you needed to reboil your speech. You would start out at a slow simmer and slowly build to a rolling boil and then overflow with your hopes and dreams or at least short term goals.  It was neat to meet people I probably would have never encountered in such a short amount of time.  These were all people from the culinary world, recipe developers, food writers, event planners ranging from just out the school to approaching retirement, a very interesting diverse bunch.

The biggest challenge was having four people on either side of you, yammering about who they were to their partner while trying to listen to your partner and not lose your train of thought when your turn came up.
If it were up to me, I would have used up the extra bit of table they had left over and separated the seats a bit more. This type of networking was good forum for me. As cocktail parties aren't my forte, I don't think I would have been very successful meeting these people if I had to rely on just my mingling skills. On that note, let's mingle some ingredients together and get Ribollita:

Ribollita - Serves 4 or more

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 garlic cloves minced
4 oz. pancetta diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper as needed
1 48 oz. can chicken stock (plus water as needed)

2 cups sliced napa cabbage (the thinner more delicate leaves cook quicker)

1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Saute onion for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent, add carrots and celery and saute about 3 more minutes.  Add garlic and pancetta and saute for a couple of minutes more. 

Add tomato paste, chicken stock, cabbage and bay leaf and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. 

Simmer for about 15 minutes until vegetables are near tender. Add canned beans and simmer until heated through. Add parsley in the last couple minutes of cooking.  Taste soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Garnish with parmesan cheese.  Serve with bread.

Some hard core ribollita recipes insist on adding bread to the bowl and ladling the soup over the bread.  Up to you!  It really depends if you are a crackers in the soup or crackers on the side kind of person.

Tuscan Ribollita
On the way out of the networking event, I realized I had a little deja vu.  I passed by Michael's Restaurant with its big bow windows that jut out onto 55th St. It was comforting to see with all the restaurants that have come and gone in Manhattan in the last 19 years, that this one was still there.  This familiar sight also reminded me that I used to work in the building on the corner.  It was when I was in my young 20's starting out in the advertising business.  My clearest memory of this place was the office was so dimly lit, you could unintentionally match dark navy and black in your outfit and no one would know the difference.
It's funny when you think about it. I couldn't I have predicted when I walked this street back then, that nearly 20 years later I would be on this same block, reboiling and reinventing myself.

1 comment:

  1. Your recipe looks delicious! That's a really cool idea speed- networking, Honestly, I think you would make an amazing food writer.