Ribollita appeals to my food sensibilities.  Loaded with vegetables, its whole premise is waste-nothing (Stale bread? Chuck it in!), it’s a rich stew, and of course it’s Italian. Look up comfort food and the first entry should be Ribollita.

This dish made of leftovers thickens and tastes better the next day – sort of leftovers squared.

Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: A crowd

3 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 large carrots, scraped, 1/4 inch dice
4 stalks celery, 1/4 inch dice
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tomato, 1/4 inch dice (or one can diced tomatoes)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp hot sauce (your favorite)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 – 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups whole grain or white bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Shredded Parmesan for topping

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and cook the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the tomato sauce, tomato, stock, hot sauce, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour. Add the parsley and bread and heat for a few minutes, then serve, topping with shredded Parmesan. A swirl of olive oil is traditional.

A dry red wine is perfect alongside your bowl of Ribollita. It is also appropriate to arrange for snow outside.

Variation: Chopped bacon or diced pancetta are nice additions for the carnivorously-inclined.

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

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