For my version of ribollita, instead of cooking the bread with the soup, I like to add a slice of toasted bread smeared with a bit of pesto and float it on top of the soup just before serving. A purist would tell you that this is definitely not ribollita, which calls for the bread to be cooked along with the vegetables. This recipe was originally published on my website somethingnewfordinner.com.
I do some other non-traditional things. I like to add tomatoes, that were certainly not available in Italy in the Middle ages, and four kinds of greens: Lacinato kale, Swiss chard, rapini and spinach. If I can find them I use cannellini beans, but great northern beans will do as well. I also use a chunk of pancetta as a tribute to the roast-soaked bread originally used to make ribollita, and just because everything is better with pancetta. —Kim at Something New For Dinner
pancetta, cut into 1/4" cubes
yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1/4" dice
In the largest soup pot you have, cook pancetta cubes until they begin to brown. Scoop them out of the pan and onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Reserve the fat from the pancetta in the pot.
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic cloves. Add the onion and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the garlic and onion mixture to the pot with the pancetta fat and cook until soft over medium heat for 10 minutes. Depending on how fatty your pancetta is, you may need to add a bit of olive oil.
In the food processor, coarsely chop the carrot and celery. Add carrots and celery to the onion and garlic mixture and saute for another 10 minutes. Add diced potatoes and stir to mix in.
Add chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, parmigiano reggiano rind, dried thyme, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook another 10 minutes.
Stir in the mixed greens and cannellini beans and cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes.
Serve in individual bowls topped with a pesto smeared crouton.
Pesto smeared croutons
In a food processor, whirl the garlic until finely minced. Add the remaining ingredients and whirl until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.