Six things you didn't know about the Tuscan Ribollita Soup
January 12, 2016
Six things you didn’t know about the Tuscan Ribollita Soup
The famous Tuscan Ribollita soup made at Tuscookany. Comforting and delicious!
Find out six things you didn’t know about the Tuscan Ribollita Soup and come and join one of our cooking classes in Tuscany this season.
Tuscookany and its amazing chefs are very proud of their Ribollita. It is a wonderful recipe, one of the finest bread soups in the entire world and a cornerstone of the Tuscan cuisine. As a matter of fact, it is quite impossible to visit Tuscany without meeting the aroma of this culinary gem. Beyond its famous texture, however, the Tuscan Ribollita hides a few secrets not many people know about.
1.When the leftovers become the main course
The real trick behind this dish resides in the ancient wisdom that has governed the Italian traditions for centuries, according to which nothing in the kitchen should be wasted. The Ribollita wasn’t born in the house of some aristocratic family or the kitchen of a prince: it is the son of the poorest Tuscan women, who regularly collected the leftovers and turned them into a triumph of flavours with their creativity and art.
2. Something about the recipe: there is no recipe
Because of its origins, the Ribollita doesn’t have a single “proper” recipe, one that was written in ancient times to be then passed down from generation to generation. People added to it whatever they had in their kitchen. Of course, bread was a constant protagonist in the poor Tuscan houses, just like cabbage, which grew also in the winter and didn’t require much to survive, onions and beans (one of the key ingredients in peasant cuisines around the globe). Everything else was a matter of availability.
3. Cook it and recook it
Just like the name suggests (Ribollita means reboiled), the dish was often cooked more than once. The poor farmers used to heat up their Ribollita day after day to serve it hot. Plus, there was no fridge and the boiling process was helpful to avoid the deterioration of the food. Everyday, new leftovers were added to the mix causing a constant change of flavours.
4. It is a religious dish, for a couple of reasons
As time went by, the Ribollita became a classic Friday dish. For religious reasons, in fact, Catholics should avoid meat, gravies and elaborated sauces on Fridays: this bread soup was the perfect choice. Plus, the people of Tuscany love the dish so much it is almost considered sacred: definitively a religious dish.
5. There is a certain way to eat it properly
One of the classic curiosities that characterize this famous dish is the way in which it is traditionally enjoyed: with your right hand you should hold the spoon, ready to be filled with the soup; in your left hand there should be an onion. Then, the dance begins: a spoon or two of soup followed by a bite of onion. Truth be told, this is how many farmers still eat their Ribollita today. Sometimes the soup is so thick you actually eat it with a fork!
6. Something you should know about the pepper
Black pepper is considered a key ingredient of the Ribollita, as the chefs of Tuscookany will confirm you. However, black pepper used to be a very expensive spice, and the poor farmers could not have access to it. However, the smart Tuscans collected peppercorns from the leftovers of the feudal lords (especially from the salami that was thrown away). The spice added a pinch of character to the already strong flavour of the Ribollita, and it turned out to be the perfect final touch.
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