A hearty delcious ribollita soup with Italian pork meatballs

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This is a soup which is just such a delicious bowl of ‘more please’. The meatballs made of pork and fennel sausage meat are just perfect here with the cannellini beans, tomatoes, chilli and of course, the cavolo nero. The herb combination really binds the key flavours together and makes this a delicious meal in itself. Accompanied by a glass or two of something like a Sangiovese and you have a memorable meal. This recipe serves 4.

Ribollita with Italian pork meatballs

4 (about 400g) Italian pork and fennel sausages, casings removed

60ml olive oil

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 rosemary sprig

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 teaspoon ground fennel

400g chopped tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

1 bunch cavolo nero, trimmed, shredded

1 zucchini, finely chopped

400g can cannellini beans

4 slices sourdough, torn into chunks

25g grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

Roll sausage meat into 20 meatballs. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the meatballs, turning, for 3-4 minutes until browned, then set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon of oil, carrot, celery, onion, rosemary and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until softened and slightly golden. Add chilli and fennel, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant, Add tomatoes and stock with 250ml water. Return meatballs to the pan, then partially cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until slightly reduced, adding cavolo nero, zucchini and beans in the final 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the bread and grill, turning, for 5 minutes or until slightly golden. Sprinkle with parmesan and grill for a further 4 minutes or until cheese has melted and golden. Remove and cool slightly.
Stir lemon juice through the soup, ladle into warmed bowls and serve with the sourdough croutons,
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