New ME

After a hard freeze, Chef Bill blooms into 2018


I bet that many of y’all have already cheated on or reassessed your New Year’s resolutions. Self-improvement, personal growth schemes seem so logical and attainable when first conceived, eh? The problem is that the world looks a little different when (or if) you sober up. Maybe instead of resolutions, what you really require is a new theme for your life.

“New Year–New ME” is going to be my theme for 2018.  

In order to execute my new theme, I asked myself a few simple questions. One: What will the “new me” be like? Um, let me think … I know, the “new me” will focus on sharing my passion with others, yes, YES! Next question: What is the passion I wish to share? This will take some serious soul-searching. And for some strange reason, soul-searching always seems to make me hungry.

All right, I got it! My passion is food. Nothing new there. So much for a “new me.” So instead, my new theme will be “New Year–More Food.” Now that’s a theme I can really sink my teeth into!

My first attempt at this new theme came after nearly freezing to death at the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day (GO IRISH). The intolerable conditions made me feel akin to a piece of citrus, withering and dying on the branch as the temps plummeted toward sub-zero range. I found myself aching for a steaming, hot, rich, hearty, slow-simmered bowl of goodness. The kind of filling, warming, delicious nirvana-inducing treat that can only be coaxed from a Cheffed Up stew featuring soft, succulent beans. 

A few of my personal favorite cold-weather dishes showcasing the exquisite, toothsome potential of the humble bean are the infamous French cassoulet, Boston baked beans, Cajun red beans and rice, Cuban black bean soup, and good ol’ American chili. The list could continue forever.

But the one that really hits the spot during a polar chill hails from Tuscany. It’s called Ribollita and, my goodness, is it something special. The name roughly translates to re-boiled. In practice this is a rich, sumptuous stew containing cannellini beans, kale and bread. Many other vegetables as well as pancetta complement the three main ingredients with a finishing touch of super-luxurious Parmigiano-Reggiano. BTW, a shot or two of limoncello will help keep the chef warm until the ribollita is ready. 

Chef Bill’s Ribollita


  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, medium dice
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 carrots, medium dice
  • 2 cups butternut squash, medium dice
  • 1 cup celery, medium dice
  • 1/2  bunch kale, stemmed, leaves rough chopped 
  • 3 oz. white wine
  • 2 cups cooked beans of choice
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 2 slices rustic bread, 1” cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan as needed
  • Olive oil as needed


  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large saucepan; add garlic and sauté until it begins to brown. 
  2. Add red onion, leek, carrots, squash, and celery. Sweat until they begin to soften.
  3. Deglaze with wine, reduce, then stir in the kale. Add broth, bouquet garni and lightly season.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes then add the beans and bread. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Season to taste.
  5. Serve with parmesan and additional olive oil. 

Until we cook again,

Contact Chef Bill, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

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