The Vegetarian Kitchen Course + no-waste ribollita
I am so excited to announce something that I have been working on for the last six months. It’s my first ever cooking course. Most of my recipes and thoughts about food have been in books or newspapers, and while I will always love a book, this course goes a step further.
Through 28 video lessons that you can stream at any time, The Vegetarian Kitchen talks you through the tips, tricks and recipes that I have learned in the last 20 years of cooking for a living. I talk you through how I build flavour and texture, and how to be a creative and flexible cook.
If there was one recipe that sums up the ethos of the course, it’s this Ribollita recipe.
Ribollita is my ultimate recipe for clearing the fridge. I have written the recipe to be flexible, so you can use up whatever you have. I usually have some greens, a starchy potato or squash, a carrot or two and the end of a bunch of herbs and some stale bread, and that’s what this Tuscan soup needs.
It is a forgiving soup – it might not end up as a totally traditional Ribollita, but you’ll have used up everything in your fridge, and that is up there with the most satisfying things you can do.
Ribollita uses one of my favourite flavour-packed things that is usually wasted: parmesan rind, which lends its umami flavour to the soup. It is worth noting that most parmesan is not vegetarian, so do check.
2 onions, peeled, or 2 leeks; washed and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
6 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped, yellow leaves reserved
A few sprigs rosemary or thyme, roughly chopped
4 fresh tomatoes or 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
300g root veg (potato, sweet potato, parsnip or squash), peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
1 whole parmesan rind (optional; I use a vegetarian parmesan style cheese)
1 × 400g tin white beans or chickpeas (or 250g home-cooked beans, liquid reserved)
3 big handfuls greens, such as rainbow chard, spinach, cavolo nero (about 400g), leaves picked and roughly chopped
2 litres hot vegetable stock
4 slices good-quality stale bread
Good extra-virgin olive oil, to finish
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions or leeks, garlic, carrot, celery and picked herbs over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until soft, sweet and slightly caramelised.
Add the tomatoes, root veg and parmesan rind, if using, squashing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon – it will look a bit dry, but don’t worry, it is meant to. Cook on a low heat, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes, until the tomato liquid has been almost completely absorbed and the vegetables look quite dry.
Add the beans – tin juices and all – cavolo nero and stock, bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and lay the slices of bread on top of the soup, like a lid. Generously drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.
Stir to combine – the soup should be thick, almost stewy and deeply delicious – then season with salt, pepper, celery leaves and more extra-virgin olive oil. Ladle into bowls and serve. The soup will thicken as it cools, so if you have leftovers, add more hot stock or water and reheat gently.