Tuscan cuisine is one of my favorites. It relies so heavily on local and seasonal produce, which is a code I live and cook by. And what gorgeous produce it is. In various seasons, Tuscany is showing off its latest harvest of white truffles, porcinis, wild asparagus, olives, kale, tomatoes, game meats or Chianti. The region boasts such a bounty that people sometimes call Tuscany “Italy’s orchard.”
In addition to being local and seasonal, Tuscan dishes are known for their simplicity. Tuscan cooks know that when you start with high-quality ingredients, you don’t need to fuss with them to make them shine. One of the classic Tuscan dishes is ribollita, a traditional Tuscan soup. Literally translated as “re-boiled,” ribollitas are thick, rich soups made with beans, vegetables and chunks of rustic bread that are cooked until bubbly hot and served drizzled with olive oil.
They’re delicious and they vary in ingredients depending on the restaurant or home you’re eating them in. In Tuscany recipes are passed down from generation to generation. This means, a chef whose nonna made ribollita with kale is serving you ribollita with kale. One thing they all have in common? You eat them slowly. Throughout Europe, people take time to eat. And there’s no place better than Tuscany to linger over a long lunch of gorgeous seasonal produce and a bit of Chianti Classico.
Put that lesson into practice over a bowl of Zuppa Ribolitta (Lentil Soup with Vegetables).