I would argue that one cannot only live on bread and wine alone, but they can live pretty well. In order to argue my point, I must admit that I still have “starving college student syndrom” every few months or so. They are inevitable: they are the times I take my car in for an oil change only to discover my head gasket has busted. Or when the student loan bill that only arrives every three months makes an appearance in my mail box (why does it always take me by surprise?). Suddenly, I cannot justify purchasing the rack of lamb I was planning for Sunday dinner. Think back to college or when you and your best friend had the brilliant idea of moving into your own place. There were days, weeks, even, when all you could afford to eat was sodium-rich dried noodle packs because you were broke!
Luckily, I have found an affordable, homemade dish that requires no rehydration and does not rely on a foil packet full of sesame oil for flavor.
It is a variation of Ribollita, a Tuscan soup featuring a humble list of ingredients, bread being a main component. A pot of this is cost effective, will last one person a week and with a bottle of wine (which can last a week), you will be in budget meal heaven. Most importanly, this soup is delicious.
A Variation of Ribollita
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped in small dice
- 2 celery stalks, chopped in small dice
- 1 white onion, chopped in small dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes in sauce
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 can cannellini beans or other small white bean
- 1 head kale, chopped
- Half a loaf ciabatta bread, cut or torn in chunks
- 1 or 2 parmesan cheese rinds
- Salt and pepper to taste
Empty tomatoes in a large bowl and hand-crush them, being careful not to splatter juice on yourself. In a large stock or soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Saute garlic, carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf until vegetables are slightly tender, about 8 minutes. If vegetables begin to brown, lower heat to medium. When vegetables are tender, add tomatoes and sauce, chicken stock, beans and kale. Bring up to a boil and add bread chunks and parmesan cheese rinds. Lower heat to low so that soup simmers. Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour (it depends on how hungry you are). To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a glass of medium bodied red wine, such as Tempranillo or Barbera.