Winter has definitely made it’s statement with recent events (namely hurricane Sandy in the US), along with heavy rain in California these days. What better way to ring in the colder months with a satisfying, one-pot meal! This soup is hearty (the polenta fills you up!), but it’s healthy with a chicken broth base and lots of fresh vegetables. Serve this as a starter or have a bowl of this for dinner!
Feel free to experiment with different vegetables like zucchini, leeks, and even eggplant if you enjoy those. However, this is traditional Italian style ribollita!
Yields: 4-6 servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup of fresh corn kernels, cut off of a corn ear (or use canned corn if fresh not available)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped
3 tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/3 cup instant polenta (available in the pasta section at Trader Joe’s and other local grocers)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Garnish: freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, corn, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and corn begin to brown, about 6 minutes.
Add the parsley, thyme, garlic, and tomatoes, cooking for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring often to make sure the garlic does not burn. Stir until fragrant. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the polenta and cook until the soup thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with grated cheese, and serve hot with breadsticks or sliced baguette!