Bread Soup - Ribollita
My wife and I took our two children (12 and 10) to Venice and Florence recently. It was our kids' first trip to Europe and they loved it! While in Florence we had some pretty fantastic food. The local Tuscan bread, of course, is unique in that it is baked without salt. It turns out this suits the local cuisine because the people of Tuscany have many very flavorful dips and toppings for their bread.
One of the better things they do with "Pane Toscano" is use it in soups. One of the signature bread soups of Tuscany is Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with white beans, cabbage, kale, and chard. Stale bread is added to the soup and the next day it is re-boiled (ribollita means re-boiled), yielding a soul-warming porridge. The locals drizzle their finest extra virgin olive oil on a bowl of Ribollita and dig in.
When we returned home, inspired by our recent trip I baked some Pane Toscana (Daniel Leader's version) and used it to make a big batch of Ribollita. The recipe was Giuliano Bugialli's from his book "Foods of Tuscany". Well, for a brief moment my family and I were transported back to Mamma Gina's trattoria in Florence!
I'm sorry I have no photos. This "food of poverty" is a great example of how the most humble ingredients can be transformed into something truly extraordinary.