The story of a humble pot

The humble pot associates with home, generosity and goodness. Nothing symbolises rustic, gentle, honest cooking better than food served from a cast-iron pot.

Pot cooking is the kind of food whose smell fills our kitchens as we cook - a rising cloud of fragrant steam that brings us automatically to the table. This is food that creates a warm glow among a table of eaters by allowing us to spend more time with the people we love. The air of generosity, abundance, care and informality - this is the power of a simple meal.
It is a known fact that when we share a meal out of the same pot, we feel more connected and closer to the people around us at the table - it's a shared experience. These days with the surge of ready meals and people eating their own separate, single portioned meals, there is a rise in people eating in solitude at their desks, in the car or in front of the TV. As a result we might start to feel disconnected from one another. It's an individual experience - perhaps even a lonely one. 
Home cooking is the antidote to a culture of fast food. It is the kind of food your granny would recognise and also appreciate. With the rise of fast food/processed food and the decline in home cooking, we have undermined the importance of the shared meal.
The shared meal is no small thing - it is part of the foundation of family life. Food brings people together and also cultivates community. We must continue to reclaim back the meal-time as it is an important part of our social life. 
There is something wonderful about cooking from a pot, it allows us to get closer to what we are cooking by letting us engage all of our senses. Pot cooking is about the joy of casual entertaining. Proper heartfelt cooking - the comforts of familiar food. Being able to cradle our food from a bowl is something that feels reassuring. Dragging a piece of chunky, buttered bread along the bottom to soak up all the delicious juices. This is food that instantly soothes and restores.
A proper cast-iron cooking pot can be a good, life-long investment. They can hold memories, passed down by generations that tell a story of the past. These cherished family heirlooms symbolise modesty and economy. Potfuls of goodess, lovingly made, giving nourishment.
Pot cooking is anything but pretentious - just simple, honest food made from humble ingredients, celebrating the every-day.

by Emily Ashworth
Ecommerce Manager of Cabbages & Roses


(serves 4)

Ribollita is a famous, thick Tuscan soup made with bread and vegetables. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, beans, cabbage and inexpensive vegetables. Its name literally means "reboiled".

400g cavolo nero
1 x red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 x carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm square
4 x celery sticks, sliced 5mm thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 x small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juice
1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
Half a loaf of slightly stale, country style/sourdough bread, crusts removed, torn into rough pieces
25g butter
olive oil
very good extra-virgin olive oil (to finish)
sea salt and pepper

- Prepare the cavolo nero by removing the stem and then shred the leaves roughly, cutting across the leaves. Slice the stems into 5mm pieces. 

- In a large, heavy based pan, heat a good swirl of olive oil and butter. Add the onion, celery, cavolo nero stems, and carrots and let them cook gently on a medium to low heat so that they don't brown but just soften.

- Add the garlic and parsley and stir until the garlic is soft but not brown.

- Add the tomatoes, stirring to combine with the other ingredients. Next add the borlotti beans and then cover with water till all ingredients are just submerged. Bring to the boil and then cook on a low simmer for 30-40 minutes. 

- Add the shredded cavolo nero leaves and cook for a further 10 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper and then add the torn bread. Keep some back so that you can add more later if the soup is not thick enough. If the soup is too thick just add a little boiled water.

- Serve with a drizzle of peppery extra-virgin olive oil and grated parmesan. 

Happy cooking!

xx C&R xx

1 comment

Clare Jenkinson (London) said...

Dear Emily

I just want to thank you for this very delicious recipe.

It is the perfect antidote to this miserable January weather
due to its colour, warmth, taste and texture, simply delicious!
I even have some left over for tomorrow with some crusty
sourdough bread. Definitely a five star recipe.

I look forward to any further recipes you may have!
Clare Jenkinson