Ribollita

By • September 18, 2011 • 25 Comments



Author Notes: According to Lidia Bastianich, the queen of Italian cuisine, cavolo nero is the traditional green used in Tuscan Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup thickened with day old bread. Ribollita is Italian for “reboiled.” Ribollita was originally peasant food, invented to stretch leftover minestrone. The soup was so delicious and satisfying, Ribollita eventually morphed into a dish in its own right.

Ribollita is a true pantry supper. It begins with soffrito, the Italian base of sautéed onions, celery, carrot, and garlic. Canned tomatoes provide depth of flavor while cannellini beans are a cheap but tasty source of protein. The blistered leaves of cavolo nero contribute texture and a nutty, slightly bitter flavor. Chunks of stale bread added at the end of cooking absorb broth, thickening the soup. This is not a long-cooking soup, but adding ingredients in stages helps to develop flavor.
la domestique

Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • 28 ounces (1 can) plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound cavolo nero, or any other variety of kale, trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 15 ounces (1 can) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6 thick slices of country bread, torn into pieces
  • 4 cups water
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and crushed red chili pepper flakes. Sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Toss in the carrot and celery with a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, trim the hard stem ends off the tomatoes and discard. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  4. Pour the tomatoes (and their juices) into the pot with the thyme, potato, and 3 cups water. Bring the soup to a simmer, turn the heat down and partially cover with the lid. Keep the soup at a low simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Toss in the kale with another cup of water, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the canned beans and continue to simmer the soup 5 more minutes.
  7. Stir in the bread and serve with a drizzle of spicy Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. The soup should be thickened by the bread, but not at all dry.
Jump to Comments (25)

Tags: Jennifer Steinhauer, Jenny, Jenny's in the Kitchen, jestei

Comments (25) Questions (2)

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almost 2 years ago Greengourmet

This soup is so wonderful- healthy, hearty, and perfectly satisfying on a cold day. I used Kale as cavolo nero doesn't seem to be available in my area, but it worked very well! I also d threw in some chick peas and lima beans that were sitting in the fridge. I've never used bread in soups before, but I was amazed at the texture and richness it gave the broth. Very glad I made a huge batch so I can enjoy it all week!

Jess-otoole

almost 2 years ago la domestique

Thank you for the kind comment, Greengourmet! Your version of this soup sounds hearty and delicious!

Jess-otoole

almost 2 years ago la domestique

Thank you for the kind comment, Greengourmet. Your version of the soup sounds hearty and delicious!

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over 2 years ago KristaFriday

I made this last night; it was delicious! Even my boyfriend, who is suspicious of all things vegan, loved it. Thanks for sharing!

Jess-otoole

over 2 years ago la domestique

KristaFriday, That's great! Thanks for sharing!

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over 2 years ago Christina Roy

This soup is delicious! It's been a huge hit in my family

Jess-otoole

over 2 years ago la domestique

Thanks for letting me know, Christina! Take care.

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over 2 years ago ubs2007

I was excited to make this soup on a very cold night in NYC! Followed the recipe precisely, but my tasters (two foodies and I) found the soup lacked flavor and depth.

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over 2 years ago wjwcooks

I made this last night and it was both incredibly easy and incredible in flavor. I had leftover rolls in the freezer that I used. It was very warming for a cold night and wonderful the next day for lunch. Give it a few shakes of parmesano reggiano too.

Jess-otoole

over 2 years ago la domestique

Wjwcooks,
Wonderful! Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you liked the soup!

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over 2 years ago wjwcooks

I made this last night and it was both incredibly easy and incredible in flavor. I had leftover rolls in the freezer that I used. It was very warming for a cold night and wonderful the next day for lunch. Give it a few shakes of parmesano reggiano too.

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over 2 years ago serafinadellarosa

Tuscans traditionally stretched their meals with bread. The story with ribollita is that when you first make it., excluding the bread, it is a minestra. The next day the bread is added to the pot of minestra. That's called minestra di pane. The following day it is reboiled...then it becomes. ribollita. Lived in Tuscany for 7 yrs. with a tried and true Florentine. His soup was always extraordinary. Everything goes in the pot plus a few proscuitto skins. I'm back in the USA now and have lots of kale. Good enuf sub for the cavolo nero. Not unusual for a spoon to stand upright in it.

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over 2 years ago TXDjinn

I just made a batch of this a few days ago using a recipe that I extracted from an amazing cook in a flyspeck of a town called Lornano - she was quite insistent that ONLY cavalo nero would do and she was right. I've made it with and without cavalo and the difference is amazing. It's worth hunting around for it.

Jess-otoole

over 2 years ago la domestique

TXDjinn,
Cavalo nero is what makes this soup special, I agree. I'm a gardener and believe it's recipes like Ribollita that showcase why variety is such a beautiful thing in the vegetable world. Happy cooking!

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over 2 years ago cupcake sue

this is delicious! thank you so much.

Jess-otoole

over 2 years ago la domestique

Thank you cupcake sue!

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almost 3 years ago bebe le perche

beautiful potage for the fall. i added a leek sliced thin to sweat with the vegetables. i added chopped parsley and a bit of fresh tarragon along with the thyme. and when i served it, sans bread, i put in a tiny bit of homemade pesto and a grating of parmesan atop the soup (which was thick enough because i didn't put quite so much water). served with a hearty, crusty, whole grain country bread. fantastic!

Jess-otoole

almost 3 years ago la domestique

Your version sounds delicious- I do love fresh tarragon. Thanks for your comment!

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almost 3 years ago cBlud

This recipe is incredible. I made it last night (to celebrate the first truly chilly day in Santa Monica), and I'm reeeeally tempted to have a bowl for breakfast. Thanks for posting!

Jess-otoole

almost 3 years ago la domestique

Thank you, cBlud! Your comment brightened my day! Welcome to food52!

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almost 3 years ago Heather Bklyn

Thanks!! We loved this soup! I also added some grated Parmesan before serving.

Jess-otoole

almost 3 years ago la domestique

Heather, so glad you liked it! Parmesan is always a good idea!

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almost 3 years ago KLL5

Great soup! I used bread that was hard as a rock, so I made "croutons" and added that. My croutons where slices of sourdough rye with garlic and olive oil. They baked in the oven for about 15 mins at 350. When I added them to the soup the garlic-oil on the bread added a great punch. Also, because the bread was so dry and toasted by this point it held its texture. Totally divine!!

Jess-otoole

almost 3 years ago la domestique

KLL5 I'm so glad you enjoyed the soup. Your croutons sound fantastic.

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almost 3 years ago Midge

I loved this recipe on so many levels. It's a snap to make, used a ton of my CSA veggies, and it was amazingly wholesome and delicious. The bread is like fairy dust, transforming it from soup to dinner. I can see this becoming a Sunday night staple in my house. Thanks for introducing it to me!