Ribollita – Tuscan vegetable and bread soup

  • Main
  • easy
  • 4
  • 1 hour 45 minutes, plus overnight to soak the beans


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Ribollita is one of Tuscany’s many famous bread soups. Typically containing cavolo nero, savoy cabbage, cannellini beans and stale bread, the dish is part of the cucina povera tradition of humble, thrifty dishes, and will likely have contained whichever vegetables were available.

Ribollita means ‘reboiled’, and an essential step to this recipe is to let the soup chill before reheating later for added depth of flavour. Best made in big batches to feed yourself for the whole week, the soup will grow tastier with each day that passes!

Cook the cannellini beans in a pan of salted water with the onion, garlic, bay, thyme and a healthy pinch of salt for 45 minutes, or until just undercooked. Drain and reserve the cooking water. Discard the onion, garlic and herbs
Add a splash of olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Gently sweat the onion, garlic, carrot and celery with the herbs, chilli flakes, fennel and a pinch of salt until soft but without colour (about 10 minutes)
Add the tomatoes and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the beans and reserved bean stock, topping up with water as needed. Simmer for 30 minutes
After this time, add the potato, cavolo nero, savoy cabbage and bread and simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until the potato is cooked. Taste and season with salt and pepper
For best results, chill the soup after cooking and reheat the next day. Serve with a generous drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper
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