I haven’t used my slow cooker a lot this winter. I think part of the reason is because I spend most of my spare time making cookies and bread. Another reason is that I’ve been into quick, healthy-ish dinners that come together in 20 minutes or less. Ain’t no one got time.
But when I saw this recipe for slow cooker ribollita on 101 Cookbooks the other day, I knew I had to make it. For those of you unfamiliar with ribollita, it’s a Tuscan stew made with a bunch of vegetables and day-old bread. It’s a great thing to make when you have a loaf of bread going stale and you want to use it up.
My favorite thing about ribollita is that it’s light enough to eat a couple times a day but hearty enough to fill you up. I usually get sick of soup after a couple times eating it, but that’s not the case with this ribollita. I don’t even like carrots and celery that much, but somehow, this soup changes my mind.
The secret ingredient in ribollita that makes it shine is lemon zest. You might be like, what? Why would you put lemon zest in Tuscan stew? The answer is because the citrus adds some zing and ties together the rest of the ingredients. Without the lemon, the stew errs on the side of minestrone, another Italian soup with tomatoes. With the lemon zest, the soup gets an extra layer of flavor and complexity.
I paired this soup with a couple slices of bread the first night. Then, the second night, I cut up some slightly stale bread, drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt, and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes. I would *highly* recommend the latter version of the meal. You’ll probably want to eat the toasted bread by itself, but it’s also great for dunking in the soup or mopping up the last bit of stew.
Here’s a song that reminds me of this ribollita. It’s bright, warming, and comforting. It’s good to play when you’re prepping the ingredients for this stew. There are A LOT of ingredients.