1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
4 slices pancetta (not smoked) or bacon (smoked), chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, cut into thin slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry red wine
1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
6 cups beef stock or broth
4 cups chopped or torn stale bread
2 15- ounce cans small white beans, such as Goya brand
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese, to pass at the table
10 fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the 1 teaspoon EVOO and the pancetta or bacon. Render it for 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and return to the pot.
Add the garlic, three fourths of the onions, the carrots, and zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
Saute for 7 to 8 minutes, then add the wine and deglaze the pot. Stir in the diced tomatoes and beef stock and bring up the heat.
When the soup boils, reduce to a simmer and stir in the bread and beans. Pile the greens into the pot and wilt them into the soup.
Simmer the ribollita for 5 minutes. Ladle into shallow bowls and top with EVOO, cheese, and the remaining raw onions. The basil, and only the basil, is an optional garnish.
This soup, which I think means "stale bread soup with vegetables," is a variation on Papa al Pomodoro. I like it much better, but I still get hung up on the soggy bread in the soup. It has a sort-of makes-you-want-to-gag consistency. But it's not in every bite, so it's tolerable. I love everything else about this soup. I love the flavors of the bacon, beef stock, and red wine together, I love the vegetables, and I love the toppings. I changed the amount of oil from 3 tablespoons to 1 teaspoon. I don't even think you need that much because of the fat in the bacon. I also added to drain the bacon fat after it is rendered. I drained the beans, although the recipe didn't say to do that. For just about everything else, I did as the recipe said. If you're debating, I think it's worth trying at least once. It might even be good without the bread all together (but then it shouldn't be called "stale bread soup").