Ribollita with Warm Croutons, also known as Italian Soup, is a quick and easy, white bean and kale soup packed with nourishing and comforting ingredients. Vegan.
Hey y’all! Hows your week going? I’m still trying to get my head into the January game. My body is home, but my head is still in Hawaii.
I was telling y’all last week about some of our adventures in Kauai, but didn’t quite get to the food scene or why I was locked in the men’s bathroom for over an hour. After all, there’s so much to tell!
The food scene on Kauai is vibrant with roadside fruit stands, a fabulous food truck assortment, farm-to-table restaurants and plenty of juice and smoothie bars to choose from. We ate in quite a bit though, making easy brekkies, dinners, and hearty salads and sandwiches on the days when ocean gazing and beach lounging was the priority.
It seems like most of the farm stands are located on the East and North sides of the Island. They sell papayas, coconut, pineapple, all kinds of citrus, mango and the most amazing avocado, all on the honor system, so they’re open 24/7, just in case you need a pineapple at 2 am. We wore out the blender making smoothies and pina coladas every day. Guacamole was on the regular, more than I’ve ever had in a 10-day period. I attempted to bring some avocados home with me, but was stopped at the USDA inspection station. They were confiscated along with two limes. I wanted to throw a fit like a two-year-old. I resisted.
For veggie tacos (and for Rob, fish), our pick is Tacos Al Pastor in Kappa. It’s a food truck that’s assembled with several others on the main drag. Service was excellent, the food was fresh and seasoned perfectly. The veggies still had a crunch to them, with variety, not boring at all, packed in warmed corn tortillas topped with avocado and a spicy, fresh cilantro sauce that was slathered over the top.
Next to the taco truck was an organic shave ice truck where they make their syrups from scratch! I was most impressed and ordered watermelon. An antidote to the blazing 75F temperature.
One early morning, we stopped at a little juice/breakfast bar that whipped up some fabulous breakfast burritos, fresh-pressed juice and smoothies. There seemed to be a fresh juice bar in every town! A relief for someone who uses a Vitamix each and every day. I honestly contemplated taking it with us, but ooooh that bag fee!
One worry when traveling for me is not being able to find local and organic produce because I cook, pack out lunches, and whip up breakkies even when on vacation. I’m kinda picky when it comes to food. Rob and I find it saves quite a bit of money, so the extra we may spend on a rental through AirBnB or VRBO is balanced with the food cost savings. It’s a win-win!
Papayas is a foodie delight co-op tucked away in a shopping area in the heart of Kapaa. It was a regular pit-stop for local produce, more fruit, bulk items and anything else we needed. It was well-stocked, and, surprisingly, the prices are in line with our co-op at home. I planned meals carefully so that I wouldn’t over-buy. After all, having a 50-pound limit on luggage is something I don’t want to exceed.. and some things cannot be brought home (re: avocados and lime).
One evening we were at a farm-to-table Taquera. Rob left for the men’s room. When he returned, I took his key for this community restroom, a separate building from the restaurant. It was the men’s key, but I didn’t care. I was too impatient to wait for the women’s room. The maitai was kickin in. I opened the door and threw the deadbolt. When I went to leave, the deadbolt didn’t function. As much as I turned the knob, nothing happened. It was like a bad dream!
Luckily, the bathroom was clean and there was a small open window with a good breeze at the top of the back wall. As I contemplated my situation, I decided that things could be worse. So I waited, patiently for about five minutes before I started kicking the door. First, not so hard, then harder, you know, to make some noise. After about five more minutes of this I started getting mad… where the hell is Rob, I thought. Then, I started kicking the door and shouting (so embarrassing), can somebody help me…. I’m locked in the men’s bathroom.
Can you imagine?
Finally one of the waitresses came out and then I heard Rob’s voice. What a relief! About an hour later, with a chiseled out deadbolt and kicked-in door. I was rescued.
When Rob was in there prior to my being locked in, he hadn’t thrown the deadbolt. He asked why I did. Good grief.
Oh there’s so much more…. but we’ve gotta talk about this quick and easy over-the-top Italian soup! I’ve shaken up the classic Ribollita with this recipe, leaving out the meat and most of the bread, and cooking this fast. But it doesn’t lack for flavor. I’ve been making this for years and find it to be my go-to on nights I want something hearty, comforting, quick and easy.
This is it!
Ribollita with Warm Croutons
- 2 C Homemade Croutons 140g
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 3/4 C Purple or Yellow Onion small dice, 90g
- 2 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 1 C Carrots sliced into 1/2" (1.27cm) pieces (about two carrots), 120g
- 1/2 C Celery chopped into 1" (2.5cm) pieces (about two stocks), 50g
- 4 C Vegetable Broth 420g
- 15 oz Canned Cannellini Beans rinsed and drained, 425g
- 14.5 oz Diced Tomatoes with juice 411g
- 2 C Red Russian or Curly Kale chopped into bite size pieces, 60g
- 1 tsp Basil dried or 1 Tbs fresh, chopped
- 2 Tbs Fresh Parsley chopped + a few leaves for garnish
- tsp A generous amount of fresh ground pepper about 1/4 , or to taste
- 1/8 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
For rewarming the croutons, preheat the oven to 350F.
Add oil to a large sauce pot or Dutch oven. Heat until shimmering. Turn heat to medium, then add onion and garlic. Saute' until onions are transparent, about five minutes. Add the carrots and celery, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add the broth, and beans and heat to a simmer then cook for an additional five minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice, kale, basil, 2 Tbs of parsley, pepper and salt. Cook for an additional 7-10 minutes or until the soup is heated through and the kale is tender.
Just before the soup is done, warm the croutons in a 350F (280C) preheated oven for five minutes.
Serve with croutons on top, and more for sharing. Garnish with parsley.
For leftovers, freeze in a lidded container (I use Ball jars) for up to two months or in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Adapted from Sunset Magazine December 2009