Friends, things have been quiet here and for that we are sorry, but as many of you know we have been too busy making Ribollita Soup for the FEAST to write. By now most readers have eaten the final results but what was served at Feast went through several batches and lots of fine tuning.
Molly and I originally tried the classic Tuscan soup at Marlow & Sons in December and were blown away by this perfectly balanced, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly simple soup. Luckily Caroline Fidanza provided the laborious recipe in the more recent Diner Journal. I was pretty thrilled to make it. Cooking Pork Belly in its own rendered fat is obviously delicious but taking water, vegetables, and beans and making it complex and rich is cooking at its best. Of course this is also immensely challenging as simplicity necessitates perfection.
It breaks my heart to say it but for the first time ever, Caroline Fidanza let me down somewhat. Making the first batch it seemed strange to add 2 28oz cans of tomatoes to the mix but I trusted her vision. However, when the soup was done it was far too tomatoe-y and all the rich subtleties of the beans were lost. More than that, it was nothing like the brothy, complex soup we had in the restaurant. In the next batch I added more water and a quarter of the tomatoes originally called for. Alas, this was, more or less, what was served at Feast. Perhaps it was a typo but either way my faith in Chef Fidanza is still strong.The recipe was there, now there was only the small matter of making 120 servings. I've had some dinner parties in my day but feeding a small army is a totally different matter, even if that army is considerably educated, good looking, liberal urbanites. 2 days of cooking and 50+ quarts of soup later I am quite proud. - dmp