This traditional Italian vegetable soup has had a makeover. I’ve added chicken sausage meatballs to what was an already perfect soup. Now it’s even more delicious.
I went to my butcher and had him grind up some boneless- skinless chicken breast for me. I add the ground chicken into a large mixing bowl and add the usual suspects for flavorings. I’m also going to add some whole fennel seeds to give it that Italian sausage flavor. I thought that the sausage flavor would enhance this recipe, but still keep it on the lean side by using chicken, instead of pork. I’m also going to post the ingredients for my meatballs here, this way, if you wanted to make this dish completely vegetarian, just leave the Pancetta and meatballs out. Replace the chicken stock with vegetable broth. The Ribollita would be just as delicious.
Oven 375 degrees
Prep Time: 5-7 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 24 walnut size meatballs
1 pound of ground chicken breasts
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of finely fresh chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of freshly ground Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
Mix all the ingredients together, but do not over mix. Just once all the flavorings are mixed throughout the ground chicken. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray each one with non-stick cooking spray. Using a small scoop, make the meatballs walnut size. Spray the tops of the meatballs lightly with the non-stick cooking spray, and bake them off for 20 minutes at 375. They will have a golden crust and finish cooking in the soup, and absorb all the flavors from the broth while they are simmering away. Now for the star, the Ribollita.
I always like to do my prep in advance of making any dish. I took the time to prep while the meatballs were baking in the oven. All my veggies are diced, the garlic is minced, and the Pancetta is diced. I have Cannellini beans the are rinsed and drained, half of the I purred in a food processor. All I did to do that was to add them to a food processor adding 3-4 tablespoon of the unsalted chicken stock to loosen then up so they would puree nice and smooth. I the Kale chopped, Savoy cabbage chopped, and the fresh basil chopped. I also have ground up the cheese and cubed some sourdough bread with the crusts removed. Twenty minutes have passed and the meatballs are out of the oven, on stand- by, waiting to be dropped into the Ribollita. Let’s get started.
In a heavy bottom soup pot, I’m going to start sauteing the onions, on med heat, just until they are soft but not brown. Next I’m adding in the Pancetta. I cook those together for 3-5 minutes until the Pancetta has released some of it’s fat. Next, I add in the crushed red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. I stir the flakes around in the pan so it releases a little heat for this dish. Moving on, I add in all the veggies and minced garlic, along with some Kosher salt, and black pepper. I let this all cook together for 10 minutes until the veggies start to get tender.
Now for some liquid. I’m adding in 1 can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. Stir that all around and then I add the kale, Savoy cabbage, chopped basil, along with some freshly grated nutmeg. I stir all this together and let cook for another 5-7 minutes, giving the cabbage and kale a chance to will down. Once the cabbage and kale have wilted down, I turn the heat down to med low. I add in the pureed Cannelini beans, stirring that through and letting it combine with the other ingredients. Now for the whole Cannellini beans. To that I add in the unsalted chicken stock and the chicken sausage meatballs. I let this simmer on med low for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the Ribollita has been simmering for 15 minutes, I add in the cubed bread and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Still stirring, giving the bread cubes a chance to dissolve and thicken the soup.
Soup is ready to serve. I like to ladle the Ribollita into large soup or pasta bowl. Add a nice helping of the cheese that I ground up earlier on top. Finally a drizzle of the best E.V.O.O on the top. I promise, if you love a hearty vegetable soup, with some delicious meatballs, I would say to try making this dish.
Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time 35-40 minutes
Equipment: Food Processor
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/4 pound of diced Pancetta
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of diced celery
3 cloves of minced garlic
2- 15 ounce cans of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans 1 pureed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1-28 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups of chopped kale
3 cups of chopped Savoy cabbage
5 slices of good sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/2 a cup of fresh grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
E.V.O.O for drizzling over the top of each bowl
First start off with making the chicken sausage meatballs ( instructions are explained at the beginning of this post). Have them baking in the oven ( for 20 minutes) while you prep all the veggies for the Ribollita; Once you’ve prepped the veggies the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Set them aside until you are ready to add them into the Ribollita.
On med heat, start sauteing the onions in olive oil. Saute until softened but not brown. Add in the crushed red pepper flakes and diced Pancetta and let cook for 3-5 minutes. Next add in the veggies and minced garlic. Add in the Kosher salt and pepper and let cook together for 10 minutes until the, veggies start to soften. To the cooked veggies add the whole caned tomatoes with juice. Stir that through and then add in the kale, cabbage, and basil, letting this cook for another 5-7 minutes until the greens have wilted down. Turn the heat down to med low and add the pureed Cannellini beans. Stir the pure through and then add the whole beans. Next, add in the unsalted chicken stock. This is the point where you would add in the meatballs that were baked off earlier. Simmer, still on med low for another 15 minutes. At this point add in the cubes bread and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Ribollita is done at this point. Garnish with fresh grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, and drizzle with good E.V.O.O.