Enjoy a Taste of Tuscany with Ribollita Soup

Embrace the warmth of Tuscan tradition with this hearty Ribollita soup recipe. Bursting with wholesome ingredients and rich flavours, this winter comfort classic is sure to delight and warm your soul. Join me on a culinary journey through Tuscany as we explore the origins of Ribollita and share the authentic recipe for this beloved dish.

Servings

 

6

Ready In:

 

8 hours

Calories:

 

478

Good For:

 

Winter Dinner

Welcome to Tuscany: An Introduction to Ribollita

By: Silvana Lanzetta

Ribollita isn’t just any soup; it’s a taste of tradition straight from the heart of Tuscany. A bubbling pot of hearty goodness, packed with earthy flavours from stale bread, lush vegetables like cavolo nero and savoy cabbage, and the comforting richness of beans.

But let’s step back in time for a moment. Ribollita’s story begins on Fridays, the lean days when resourcefulness was key. It was a time to gather the leftovers from the day before and let them simmer slowly over the fire, creating a soup that only got better with each boil. And that’s where the name comes from – “ribollita” means “reboiled” in Italian, and trust me, the more it simmers, the more it shines!

Like many beloved Tuscan dishes, Ribollita has its own family secrets and regional variations. The recipe I’m sharing today is a treasure from an old cookbook, passed down through generations. It’s not about fancy techniques; it’s about letting the ingredients work their magic as they mingle and meld together over time.

And let’s talk presentation – there’s something special about serving Ribollita in a “coccio,” a rustic terracotta pot that whispers of tradition. It’s not just about keeping the soup warm; it’s about honouring the roots of this timeless dish.

And here’s a little tip: Ribollita is the ultimate fridge cleaner! Throw in whatever autumn and winter veggies you have lying around – they’ll only add to the deliciousness. And once it’s cooked, don’t be afraid to freeze leftovers. Trust me, having a stash of Ribollita in the freezer is like having a warm hug waiting for you on a chilly day.

So, there you have it – a glimpse into the soul of Ribollita, a dish that’s stood the test of time and continues to bring comfort and joy to tables around the world.

Ribollita isn’t just a soup; it’s a journey through time, a taste of tradition that warms the soul with every spoonful.

italian rice salad in a glass bowl overhead shot
Tuscan bread

Unsalted homemade Tuscan bread

terracotta casserole

Coccio – Terracotta Casserole

How to pronounce Ribollita

The Origins of Ribollita: From Peasant Fare to Culinary Classic

Legend has it that the name Ribollita might have been coined by a clever restaurateur looking to jazz up its image. Back in the day, it was known as “Tuscan lean farmer’s soup,” a moniker echoed by culinary legend Pellegrino Artusi in his famous cookbook.

But the tale of Ribollita goes way back – we’re talking 16th-century stuff here. Written records from that time describe a soup made with bread and black cabbage, penned by none other than Giovanni Del Turco, a composer with a passion for gastronomy at the court of Cosimo II de’ Medici. In his book “Epulario e segreti vari. Trattati di cucina toscana nella Firenze seicentesca,” Del Turco dishes out a recipe that, despite the language differences, could easily be lifted from a modern cookbook:

“Grab two or three hefty onions, peel off the outer layers, then dunk them in a pot of not-quite-full water. Once in the pot, add the cabbage, onions, oil, and salt, and let it all simmer away. About an hour before lunch, chuck in the cabbage to cook, and serve it up with slices of bread underneath.”

Fascinating stuff, right? Ribollita soup is a culinary tradition that has stood the test of time, bridging centuries and captivating people with its rustic charm.

dried cannellini beans close up
tuna chunks in a small white bowl
oil preserved vegetables in 4 jars
tuna chunks in a small white bowl

Nutrition

 

Ribollita is a hearty Tuscan soup rich in vegetables, beans, and bread. It’s high in fibre, providing complex carbohydrates and essential nutrients. With a variety of vegetables and beans, it offers vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein. However, it may be high in sodium, so enjoy it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

  • Proteins 19% 19%
  • Carbs 69% 69%
  • Fats 12% 12%
Ribollita soup with bread in a white bowl

The Heart of Ribollita: Exploring Key Ingredients

Bread

Tuscan bread is the traditional bread in Ribollita. A rustic, hearty loaf with a crusty exterior and a soft, chewy interior. It’s not just any bread; it’s a key ingredient that gives Ribollita its unique character.

Now, what makes this bread so special? Well, it’s all about texture and flavour. You see, Tuscan bread is made without salt, which might sound odd at first, but it’s a tradition that dates back centuries. Legend has it that a salt tax imposed in medieval times led to the creation of salt-free bread. Despite its lack of salt, Tuscan bread has a distinct taste and texture, with a slightly sweet flavour and a dense, chewy crumb.

So, why does this choice make Ribollita special? It’s all about the way this bread interacts with the other ingredients in the soup. As Ribollita simmers away, the bread soaks up all those delicious flavours, softening into a melt-in-your-mouth delight. It adds body and thickness to the soup, turning it into a hearty, comforting meal that warms you from the inside out.

If you feel like baking, check out my recipe to make it at home from scratch.

Now, in case you can’t get your hands on Tuscan bread, fear not! You can still make a delicious Ribollita using a rustic, crusty loaf of bread with a similar texture. Just look for a hearty artisanal bread with a dense crumb and a crusty exterior, and you’ll be good to go.ย 

 

Cavolo Nero

Cavolo nero is the leafy superstar of Ribollita! Also known as Tuscan kale or black cabbage, this veggie plays a crucial role in the traditional recipe, and for good reason.

First things first, cavolo nero isn’t your average kale. It’s got this deep, earthy flavour that adds a rich, robust taste to Ribollita. Plus, its hearty leaves hold up beautifully as the soup simmers away, soaking up all those delicious flavours and turning tender and melt-in-your-mouth.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s a powerhouse ingredient that not only tastes amazing but also adds a hefty dose of goodness to your meal.

But why cavolo nero specifically? Cavolo nero has been a staple in Tuscan cuisine for centuries, prized for its flavour and versatility. In Ribollita, it adds a touch of authenticity and a nod to the region’s rich culinary heritage. It’s a vegetable deeply rooted in Tuscan culture, and its presence in Ribollita speaks volumes about the dish’s traditional roots.

In Ribollita, cavolo nero plays a crucial role in creating that distinctive, comforting flavour that we all know and love. Its slightly bitter undertones balance out the sweetness of the carrots, potatoes, and savoy cabbage, while its sturdy texture holds its own against the other ingredients.

And let’s not forget about the visual appeal! Those dark, ruffled leaves add a pop of colour to the soup, turning it into a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

 

Swiss Chard

Let’s talk about Swiss chard, the colourful addition that brings Ribollita to life! Picture vibrant green leaves and colourful stems โ€“ that’s Swiss chard for you.

Now, Swiss chard isn’t just a pretty face โ€“ it’s also packed with nutrients. Think vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants โ€“ all the good stuff your body loves. Plus, its slightly earthy flavour adds depth to the soup, making each spoonful a symphony of taste.

But what if you can’t find Swiss chard at your local market? Don’t worry, there’s a backup plan. Spinach makes a fantastic substitute. It’s readily available, easy to work with, and offers a similar texture and flavour profile to Swiss chard. Just chop it up and toss it into your Ribollita โ€“ problem solved!

Now, let’s talk tradition. Swiss chard has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries, loved for its versatility and robust flavour. By using Swiss chard in your Ribollita, you’re honouring that rich culinary history and adding a touch of Mediterranean magic to your soup.

 

 

Cannellini Beans

Let’s talk about the beans in Ribollita, those little nuggets of goodness that add heartiness and depth to this classic Tuscan soup. I’m talking about Cannellini beans, and they’re more than just your average legume โ€“ they’re the secret ingredient that makes Ribollita truly special.

Now, what sets Cannellini beans apart? Well, first off, they’re creamy and buttery, with a delicate yet robust flavour that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients in Ribollita. These beans have a smooth texture that complements the chewy bread and tender vegetables, creating a comforting, satisfying dish that’s perfect for chilly evenings.

But it’s not just about taste โ€“ Cannellini beans are also packed with nutrients, including protein, fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals. They’re a nutritious addition to any meal, providing a healthy dose of plant-based goodness that’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied.

What really makes Cannellini beans shine in Ribollita is how they absorb all the rich flavours of the soup as it simmers away. As they cook, they release starches that thicken the broth, giving Ribollita its signature creamy texture and hearty consistency. Plus, they add a lovely nuttiness that rounds out the dish beautifully.

 

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage is the unsung hero of Ribollita! This crinkly, green beauty adds a delightful twist to the traditional Tuscan soup.

First off, savoy cabbage brings a lovely texture to Ribollita. Its leaves are tender yet sturdy, which means they hold up well during the long simmering process. As the soup cooks, the cabbage releases its natural sweetness, infusing every spoonful with a deliciously hearty flavour.

But savoy cabbage isn’t just about taste โ€“ it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, it adds a healthy boost to your meal. Plus, its low calorie and high water content make it a great choice for those looking to eat well without sacrificing flavour.

Now, let’s talk tradition. Savoy cabbage has been a beloved ingredient in Tuscan cuisine for generations. Its versatility and ability to thrive in the region’s climate have made it a staple in many dishes, including Ribollita. By incorporating savoy cabbage into the soup, you’re honouring centuries of culinary tradition and embracing the flavours of Tuscany.

Savoy Cabbage is a key player in creating that authentic, soul-warming taste that makes this Tuscan soup so special.ย 

 

Homemade Beef Stock

The heart and soul of Ribollita is – without doubt –ย  the broth! While the debate rages on about which broth reigns supreme, there’s something undeniably special about homemade beef stock.

Picture this: a simmering pot on the stove, filled with rich, savoury goodness. That’s homemade beef stock for you โ€“ packed with flavour and depth that’s hard to beat. It’s the secret ingredient that adds that extra oomph to your Ribollita, elevating it from tasty to downright divine.

Now, I get it โ€“ not everyone’s a fan of beef. For all the vegans out there, fear not! There’s a fantastic alternative โ€“ homemade vegetable stock. It’s bursting with all the same delicious flavours, minus the meat. Just simmer your favourite veggies in water with some herbs and spices, and voila โ€“ you’ve got yourself a vegan-friendly broth that’s perfect for your Ribollita.

But why go through the trouble of making your own broth, you ask? Well, my friend, it’s all about control. When you make your own broth, you get to choose the ingredients, ensuring quality and freshness every time. Plus, you can customise the flavours to suit your taste โ€“ more herbs, less salt, it’s all up to you!

So whether you’re simmering up a pot of beef stock or whipping up a batch of veggie broth, just know that you’re adding a whole lot of love to your Ribollita. And really, isn’t that what cooking’s all about?

 

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Make Authentic Ribollita: Step-by-Step Instructions

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Ribollita soup with bread in a white bowl

Ribollita Recipe


  • Author: Silvana Lanzetta
  • Total Time: 8 hours
  • Yield: 4 portions 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 400 grams dry Cannellini beans
  • 300 grams of stale Tuscan bread
  • 400 grams of cavolo nero
  • 300 grams of savoy cabbage
  • 400 gram of Swiss chard
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 3 peeled plum tomatoes (also canned)
  • 1 large onion
  • 100 grams carrots
  • 100 grams celery
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 litres of homemade beef stock or vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Begin by soaking the beans in water for at least 12 hours.
  2. Once softened, boil the beans in water with rosemary for approximately 1 hour or until they are softened.
  3. Drain the beans, keeping the cooking water, and split them in half, reserving one half whole and pureeing the other half.
  4. Make beef or vegetable stock to add to the reserved bean water.
  5. In a large pot, sautรฉ finely chopped onion, diced carrots, and celery in oil for 1 minute. Then, add diced potatoes and tied fresh thyme.
  6. After 1 minute, add peeled tomatoes and sautรฉ briefly.
  7. Add cleaned, washed, and sliced black cabbage, along with cleaned and chopped Swiss chard and sliced savoy cabbage. Bring to a boil.
  8. Add the reserved bean water, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, adding hot bean broth as needed.
  9. Once cooked, add the bean puree and cook for another 30 minutes.
  10. Add the whole beans, cover with hot broth, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt.
  11. To “reboil” the soup with stale bread, use a terracotta pot or casserole dish.
  12. Layer slices of stale bread with ladles of soup until the pot is full.
  13. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or -even better- overnight.
  14. Before serving, add a couple of ladles of broth and a drizzle of oil. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.
  15. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Serve the Ribollita hot and enjoy!

Notes

ย If opting for canned beans, you’ll need approximately 2 cans, totalling around 750g.

In the absence of Tuscan bread, feel free to substitute with a loaf of classic homemade bread boasting a thick crust.

You can substitute spinach for Swiss chard if preferred.

After cooking, your Ribollita can be kept in the fridge for approximately 2-3 days.

If you intend to freeze it, I suggest portioning it before adding the bread. This way, you can conveniently create a new Ribollita later, using any leftover bread!

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Rest Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: slow cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian
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FAQs

What is ribollita soup made of?

The key ingredients in Ribollita include:

  • Savoy cabbage
  • Black cabbage (also known as Tuscan kale and cavolo nero)
  • Swiss chard
  • Cannellini beans
  • Stale Tuscan or rustic bread

How do you add bread to soup?

There are a few ways to add bread to soup. One popular method is to simply tear up a crusty loaf of bread into bite-sized pieces and drop them into your soup just before serving. This adds texture and helps to thicken the soup slightly.  Another option is to serve the soup in a bread bowl, which involves hollowing out a loaf of bread and pouring the soup into it.  Lastly, you can toast slices of bread and serve them alongside the soup for dipping. Whichever method you choose, adding bread to soup can enhance its texture and make it even more satisfying.

Can I use any type of bread for soup?

Yes, you can use various types of bread for soup. Popular choices include crusty bread, baguette, sourdough, or even whole wheat bread. It’s best to choose a bread that has a firm texture and can hold up well when soaked in soup.

Why is ribollita important to Italy?

Ribollita holds significance in Italy, particularly in the region of Tuscany, for several reasons:

  1. Cultural Heritage: Ribollita is deeply rooted in Tuscan culinary tradition, reflecting the region’s rich history and culture. It serves as a symbol of Tuscan identity and heritage.
  2. Nourishing and Sustaining: Historically, Ribollita was a peasant dish, born out of necessity to make use of leftover bread and seasonal vegetables. It provided nourishment and sustenance to Tuscan families, especially during times of scarcity.
  3. Seasonal Ingredients: Ribollita celebrates the abundance of seasonal vegetables and legumes available in Tuscany, showcasing the region’s agricultural bounty.
  4. Culinary Craftsmanship: Crafting Ribollita requires skill and attention to detail, from selecting quality ingredients to mastering the cooking process. It represents the craftsmanship and dedication of Tuscan cooks.
  5. Shared Traditions: Ribollita is often enjoyed as a communal meal, bringing together family and friends to share in its hearty flavours. It fosters a sense of community and togetherness, embodying the Italian tradition of conviviality.

How do you pronounce ribollita?

The pronunciation of “Ribollita” is: ree-boh-LEE-tah. In Italian, double consonants are pronounced with a slight emphasis or lengthening of the consonant sound. Unlike in English, where double consonants often indicate separate sounds, in Italian, they signify a single, strengthened pronunciation of the consonant. In “Ribollita,” the double consonant “ll” is pronounced with a slightly stronger emphasis.

What is the history of ribollita in Italy?

The history of Ribollita in Italy traces back to the region of Tuscany, where it originated as a peasant dish during medieval times. This hearty soup was created as a way to make use of leftover bread and seasonal vegetables, providing sustenance to Tuscan families. Over the years, Ribollita evolved into a beloved culinary tradition, symbolising Tuscan heritage and showcasing the region’s agricultural abundance. Today, it remains a cherished dish in Italian cuisine, celebrated for its rich flavours and cultural significance.

What country is ribollita from?

Ribollita originates from Italy, specifically the region of Tuscany.

Can I make Ribollita vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, Ribollita can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable broth instead of beef broth, and ensuring all other ingredients are plant-based.

Silvana Lanzetta

Silvana Lanzetta

โ€œCiao, Iโ€™m Silvana, a fourth-generation pasta artisan from Napoli with a lifetime of experience! I began making pasta at the tender age of 5 under the watchful eye of my pasta-making generalissimo, my granny. Through her guidance, Iโ€™ve become a master in crafting traditional pasta dishes. Since 2014, I have been teaching pasta making classes in London, sharing my expertise with aspiring pasta enthusiasts. Iโ€™ve also had the privilege of showcasing my knowledge on BBC and in national newspapers like The Sun and iNews, and held pasta making demonstration in Harrods. Join me in exploring the world of Italian pasta and letโ€™s create unforgettable culinary experiences together!โ€

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