Last night was cooking night at the Zimmern household. Sunday evenings are reserved for making a soup, braising a piece of beef, roasting some pork, and cooking off some noodles and vegetables so that during the week we have food we can get from fridge to table in minutes. When our two-year-old says it’s time to eat, it’s time to eat.
Last night we roasted a pork shoulder on a bed of mushrooms and onions, braised an arm roast of grass-fed beef in red wine with carrots and fennel, and whipped up some Yukon Gold potatoes, but what I really was excited about was the ribollita that I made. It’s an ancient recipe that my dad got somewhere and passed on to me years ago. His version does not call for prosciutto. This classic Italian zuppa is the perfect wintertime rib-sticking meal in a bowl. Most people make it for vegetarians, but I say do it my way and use the prosciutto hock, which in most stores is thrown away and can usually be sweet-talked from the counter person for next to nothing. I buy my prosciutto at Italian markets like Broder’s, Buon Giorno, Cossetta’s, or at my neighborhood Byerly’s. And feel free to sprinkle this soup with shaved parmesan at the table!
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bunches celery, chopped
3 onions, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1/2 c. olive oil
1 prosciutto hock or heel weighing 8-9 oz. cut in half
4 c. chopped, imported, canned tomatoes, lightly drained
5 lbs. mixed greens (chard, kale, escarole, etc.), stems removed and chopped
1 lb. dried cannellini or borlotti beans**, cooked
2 medium-sized loaves stale artisanal bread, cubed
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
In a large pot, sauté parsley, garlic, celery, onions, carrots, and leeks in the oil. Add prosciutto and continue cooking until all vegetables are soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes. Add the greens and the half the beans along with enough of the bean cooking liquid to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes. Purée the remaining beans in a food processor and add to the soup with enough bean cooking liquid to make the soup liquid-y again. Add the bread and the EVOO. season with salt and pepper, and serve. The soup should be very, very thick! Serves 6-8.
** Soak the beans overnight in water mixed with 2 T. baking soda prior to cooking to soften the skins. Rinse and cook off the beans in lightly boiling chicken broth seasoned with fresh sage, 2 c. diced tomatoes, half a head of garlic, and 1 chopped onion, drained and cooled, reserve the cooking broth.