Because Life with Kids is Sticky...Very Sticky

Lucy Mercer

Lucy Mercer
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
December 31
I cook, I write, I carpool. You may also find my words at A Cook and Her Books. Email acookandherbooks@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting!


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OCTOBER 26, 2010 1:35PM

If life brings you vegetables...make soup!

Rate: 8 Flag
Last week, I whined about an overabundance of vegetables in my refrigerator, hoping for a Salon Kitchen Challenge on the subject of arugula, or turnips or cauliflower. That was not to be, we were given the subject of Halloween candy, which turned out pretty well for me, as I turned out Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce (using leftover Hershey's miniatures). Still, I needed to use up the vegetables, and turned to the thrifty cook's go-to recipe, soup.

I made ribollita, a Tuscan soup literally meaning "reboiled." It's a mixture of vegetables, broth and leftover bread. Hey, I had that, too. The result is a hearty soup in a tremendous quantity. 


 I had a lot of greens on hand, and added a chiffonade of arugula at the end. This is optional, but a colorful and tasty addition.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 Asian eggplants, peeled and sliced on the bias

2 medium onions, peeled and diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded

2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh or frozen butter beans

4 cups vegetable or low-salt chicken broth, homemade if available

Salt and pepper to taste

A handful of basil, chiffonade, optional

Greens such as arugula, chiffonade, optional

Stale, good-quality rustic bread

1. In a soup pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat, stir in olive oil and place eggplant slices in pan. Cook them as you would meat, letting them brown on both sides. Stir in onions, letting them soften, followed by carrots and celery. Continue to cook until all the vegetables are brownish and soft, adding a bit of water if needed. 

2. Stir in tomatoes, butter beans and broth. Add shredded cabbage. Season to taste and let simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. If adding basil or greens, stir them into pot just before serving. Place slice of stale bread in bottom of soup bowl, ladle soup over all. Serve.

 One of my favorite writers on the subject of food, or just about anything, is Calvin Trillin. In a piece in Gourmet magazine a few years ago, Trillin wrote that ribollita is Italian for "sticks to your ribs." I must agree, but there's always room for dessert, especially this dense apple cake, kind of a blondie with sweet apples baked inside. The recipe is on  Lisa Kuebler's blog and is fantastic.

Lisa's apple cake

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Now I really want a chiffonade of arugula. Oh, well. I have eggplant. And cilantro. I can make something. Except, damn, now I have to make bread. But you've given me a goal.
Being Italian, I always have lots of veggies for making soups and stews. Yummy for all seasons. -R-
A big bowl of vegetable soup sounds really good after this week of candy, cupcakes and such. I bet this would freeze well for busy days, too. Calvin Trillin is awesome. Did you know he has a book of essays on fatherhood, too?
Thanks, my soup-loving friends for stopping by. It's hardly soup weather here - a balmy 80 degrees as a storm front moves through.

Bonnie: I wish you were here so I could share the soup with you.

Mumble: I really wish you were here so I could share the soup with you, too. You made me laugh about the bread.

Christine: I need a primer on Italian soups - this one is a fave!

Grace: Love, love, love Trillin. I gave my husband the Trillin fatherhood book & it got buried under a stack of Lee Child's thrillers. I'm going to dig it out & read it myself.
Wow, this looks good. :) Thanks for the shout-out, too!
Geez, your article just made me hungry and reminded me that I haven't made ribollita for a while. The stick to your ribs part is certainly correct. I used to use the canned tomatoes but have recently switched to fresh only after reading about that toxin (forget its name) that's found on the inner lining. Thanks for the ribollita reminder Lucy.
Soup, glorious soup. :) Rated
I love vegetable soup. You've inspired me to make some this week. Thanks, Lucy.