Monday, December 13, 2010

Ribolitta and a Lazy Rainy Sunday

After all our running around on Saturday (to Philly and back) we decided to sleep in on Sunday. We were still awake long before 8am but it was good to lounge around a bit. We toyed with the idea of going to farmers’ market but ended up stopping at Whole Foods instead because it was closer and we needed tofu and few other items that wouldn’t be at the farmers’ market.

Somehow I had let us run out of kale. Can you imagine Dan’s horror? How would he possibly survive without a green smoothie? After all he had oatmeal yesterday so he needed a green smoothie today. ;-)

While we were at Whole Foods a few other unplanned items happened to jump in the chart. That always happens when I go shopping I wonder why. Dan even added something to the cart from the magazine area. I guess the family that impulse shops together stays together. LOL

I have yet to try tempeh bacon and am probably the last vegan on earth that hasn’t. I found a package at WF that wasn’t full of the usual “what the heck is that” ingredients or soy protein isolates so I bought it. I thought it might be nice as a soup or salad garnish. We won’t be making sandwiches or eating it straight. ;-)

Foodfeud asked about dried blueberries a few posts back and I said there was a brand called “Just Tomatoes” that probably also sold blueberries. Look what I found at the end of one of the aisles “Just Blueberries”. They also had a lot of other dried fruits there to choose from.

When we got back from running errands we had a green smoothie. This one contained: kale, frozen banana, reduced-fat peanut butter, ground golden flaxseeds, cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia, water and ice. It was very good. Even though it is an odd green color it only tastes like bananas and nut butter. Dan’s had more nut butter than mine but otherwise they were the same.

After having ribolitta on Saturday at the cooking demo I decided it was time I take my traditional omni version and make it vegan and healthy.

What is ribolitta? It is a traditional Tuscan vegetable based stew that normally has white beans. It is what they do with the soup the second day. Day one it is a vegetable bean soup, but on day two they add stale bread to change it. I know it sounds weird but it traditional Italian comfort food. My version is not traditional since it is vegan. But it stays true to the spirit of the recipe. Here is what I did:

Ribolitta – my way
Makes 8 large servings


1 pound white kidney beans
water sufficient to cook the beans (should cover by two inches to start)
3 bay leaves
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 large red onion, finely dice
28 ounces diced tomatoes
2 carrots, finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
4 cups green cabbage, thinly cut (so that it will easily fit on a spoon)
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
water to just cover the veggies and beans
½ cup red wine vinegar (to lift the flavor)
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast, or to taste
8’ish slices of whole grain bakery bread torn into bite sizes pieces (stale bread is best if not stale then toast in the oven)
½ cup raw cashews pureed with 1 cup of soup liquid until completely smooth (used my Vitamix)
freshly ground pepper, to taste (we always uses Telicherry and Dan swears he can taste a difference)
dulse granules, to taste (for their saltiness)
1 cup fresh parsley, minced


Combine the white beans, water to cover by them by two inches, bay leaves and the minced garlic and cook until the beans are tender. Then add the remaining ingredients through the vinegar and cook for another 30 minutes to soften the veggies and allow the flavors to marry. You may need to add water during the cooking. Try to make sure the soup contents remain covered by at least a ¼ inch of liquid.

My original recipe for ribolitta included a parmesan cheese rind (which I used to save in the freezer for just such occasion). One parmesan cheese rind added a nice subtle cheesiness to the dish. It wasn’t an overpowering cheesy flavor just a background note. I found that 5 tablespoons of nutrition yeast was enough to give a similar background flavor.

Stir the bread into the soup, the cashew crème and season with dulse (or salt) and pepper to taste. Cook until the bread starts to break down and thicken the soup. If the soup isn’t thick enough add more bread. That is why I give the measure imprecisely. Add the parsley at the very end so it stays a vibrant green and retains its fresh taste.

To serve it would be traditional top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, which I did for my parents. Dan and I ate ours without the oil on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 386.11
Calories From Fat (11%) - 43.06

Total Fat - 4.76g
Saturated Fat - 0.89g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 322.44mg
Potassium - 1757.86mg
Total Carbohydrates - 63.31g
Fiber - 15.82g
Sugar - 5.64g
Protein - 20.91g


This is definitely a cold weather stick to ribs type of meal. I was full for 5 hours after eating this. While this isn’t as healthy as most of my food (due to the flour) it was okay for an occasional meal. I wouldn’t make this all the time.

Even without the traditional pancetta (Italian bacon that isn’t smoked) that is normally found in this dish my parents still enjoyed it enough to clean their respective bowls. It is though my mother knows when my food is less healthy, LOL.

Since I was full for so long after the mid-day meal with my parents, dinner was something easy. We had 3 slices leftover pizza in the refrigerator from Friday night. I used a cast iron skillet with a lid to reheat the pizza. Dan had two slices and I had one. If you haven’t tried reheating your pizza in a cast iron skillet it works very well and is faster than preheating the oven and your pizza stone. It does help to have a lid for your pan. I have found that one of my Le Creuset lids fits perfectly on my cast iron skillet (which came without a lid) and that is what I use.

To accompany the pizza I made us both a salad of mesclun, grape tomatoes, avocado and balsamic vinegar.

When I was reducing the pictures for this post I realized how much beige food we had today. *ugh* Clearly there needs to be more color on our plates Monday. Beige food is almost always less healthful than colorful food. I guess taking pictures of all our meals is a good reminder to me to watch the beige. See … everyone needs a nudge now and then.

Happy Thoughts:

Sunday was another good day and Monday isn’t starting off too badly either. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• We had a wonderful break from the cold weather on Sunday. We woke to temperatures in the mid 50s. It was a pleasure to head out to the store and not need to bundle up like an Eskimo.

• We had discovered that early Sunday morning is a good time to go to Whole Foods if you want to avoid the crowds. We are going to make that our new routine in place of the farmers’ market which is closing next week until April 1.

• Everyone liked the soup I made today which was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a minor revolt over the lack of pancetta and parmesan but everyone was on their good behavior for a change.

• Dan and I spend Sunday relaxing which was great after our day out of the house Saturday.

• Binky was very happy to have his daddy home to take a nap on. Isn’t he just the cutest little thing?

• Monday morning we were back to the gym. My knee has definitely improved greatly but still isn’t 100%. We took it a little easy this morning and stopped after 45 minutes of cardio. I am going to give me knee a little while longer to recover before I try to push it. I still dislike the elliptical, by the way. ;-)

• The possible snow that was predicted overnight was a bust. Woo hoo! When we left of the gym there was a little white stuff but only on the hoods and trunks of cars. After the back to back to back blizzards last winter that was enough snow to last me a few winters.

Signing out:

I have been flitting around this morning and not really getting anything crossed off my to-do list. I need to get my behind in gear and get some things accomplished. I will talk to you all again tomorrow. I hope Monday is starting off well for everyone.


  1. Ok, your basket looks a lot like mine often does - that's the same tempeh bacon I get. I so forgot to put kale on the grocery list and wish I had it to use for soup tonight. Drats. That ribolitta looks so good - warm and comforting. Hope you're having a good Monday.

  2. Fun! Everything sounds great. Love the shopping cart shot. ;)

  3. Heather,

    Good to know you buy the same brand. I haven't tried any of it yet. You know me and commerical food. ;-)

    Dan looked at me with horror when I said we had no kale. He is really enjoying his kale smoothies. Who is this man?

    The ribolitta was very filling, it was 5+ hours before I was hungry. I packed the end of it in Dan's lunch today. Sounds like I will making some sort of soup this afternoon.

    I hope your Tuesday is starting off well,

  4. Kristen,

    My hubby was rolling his eyes at the shopping cart pic. It made me smile, LOL. Thanks for letting me know it wasn't just me.


  5. oh my gosh - everything looks so yummy...I gotta have that smoothie!

  6. Jhe'anell,

    That is one of my hubby's favorite smoothies. Sometimes we make it with walnuts in place of peanut butter for more omega 3. But if you want to use walnuts having a high powered blender helps to get the smoothie completely smooth.


  7. I haven't ever tried tempeh bacon either. I have always wanted to, but I will make it myself--there are tons of recipes out there. Although I will probably sub tofu for the tempeh as I don't care for tempeh :-) What did you think of the product you bought?

    I am so happy to hear your parents liked your ribolitta--it looks really good!


  8. Courtney,

    I thought for sure we were the last vegans to try tempeh bacon. Thanks for letting me know you haven't tried it either. I haven't opened the package yet. I will let you know what we think when we try it.

    I did make tofu bacon a couple of times one salty version and one not so salty.

    My parents have had my omni version of ribolitta so I was expecting them to not like this one. I was very surprised but happy that they did. I will warn you this is very filling. I would probably make the servings smaller the next time because of that.

    talk to you later,

  9. OK, That totally did not look like I thought it would. I was imagining a red soup with a bread in it. It looks fairly like my white bean and broccoli soup although mine does not have carrots in it. I seriously need a whole foods store or just some tempeh would be nice.
    I have to use up my kale in the fridge. Can I freeze it?
    TTYL, B~!

  10. Brandi,

    Oddly not all versions of ribolitta even contain tomato, most do but not all. Some recipes are heavier in beans other have more veg. I like the bean heavy variation.

    You may be thinking of Papa al Pomodoro which is a tomato and bread soup made in Tuscany in the summer with fresh tomatoes.

    Bummer you can't get tempeh there? I have been meaning to make my own. I guess I need to get moving on that so I can tell you that you should make it too. ;-)

    I think you can blanch and freeze kale like spinach. But since you have the dehydrator make some kale chips.


  11. Thanks for the heads up and the info about the blueberries! I love dried berries and eat them by the handful at times so I definitely prefer they be "just blueberries." I'll look for them next time I'm at WF!

  12. Foodfeud,

    I hope your Whole Foods has them. I have also seen this brand at our local healthfood store. I bet they have an online store if you can't find them locally.



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