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Our very own Dr. Burton is now a recognized soup chef! About a week ago here in Grand Rapids, The University Club held their 2nd Annual Soup Cook-Off fundraiser to benefit their Scholarship Fund. Dr. Burton entered his famous Italian Ribollita Soup and won THIRD place! What a wonderful (and delicious) way to help a great cause!
Here is his award-winning recipe:

Italian Ribollita with Pancetta

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini beans (2 cans Northern beans can be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1/4 pound large diced pancetta or smoked bacon (make sure it is lean)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped kale (spinach may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups heavy dense day old bread cubes, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)


Directions:

In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Soak overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in the liquid. (If you opt to substitute dried beans for the 2 cans of Northern beans you do not need to soak. Use entire can, liquid and all.)

Heat the oil in a large stockpot: Add the pancetta and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Drain the beans and keep their cooking liquid in a separate bowl. In the food processor with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot then add the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil if you’d like.

Enjoy.