Ribollita is a traditional centuries-old Tuscan soup that is made with vegetables and beans and thickened with stale bread. The word “ribollita” actually means “reboiled,” as the soup is traditionally made from reboiling leftover vegetable soup the next day with the addition of bread. The process of reboiling the soup thickens it and makes it heartier. It also concentrates the flavors, so it is commonly said that ribollita is even better the next day. This vegetarian soup is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dish that’s filling and perfect for a cold winter’s night. —Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Sonali aka the Foodie Physician is an emergency physician and cookbook author from Florida.
WHAT: A vegetarian, flavorful take on the classic Tuscan peasant stew.
HOW: In a large Dutch oven, sauté root vegetables with garlic and dried red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add tomatos and kale, and bring to a simmer with the stock, herbs, and Parmesan rind. Add the beans and bread, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through and the ribollita is thick. Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We've talked a lot about comfort food over the past few months, but after one spoonful of broth-soaked bread and vegetables, we nearly forgot about every cold weather staple we've turned to this winter. The thick broth is warm, filling, and slightly creamy from the Parmesan rind -- not to mention easy to make. Our only regret? That we didn't discover it earlier in the season. —The Editors
extra-virgin olive oil, plus some to serve
large onion, chopped
carrots, peeled and chopped
celery stalks, chopped
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
dried red pepper flakes (up to 1/4 teaspoon, depending on how spicy you like it)
Heat the olive oil in a wide based pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and dried red pepper flakes and cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until partially softened. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and cook another 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the kale and cook until it starts to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, stock (or water), thyme, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind and bring to a simmer.
Pour about 1/4 of the cannellini beans into a small bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and mash them together with a fork to form a paste. Pour the paste and the remaining whole beans into the soup and stir to combine. The mashed beans will help to thicken the soup as it cooks. Simmer the soup with the lid slightly ajar, about 25 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but still al dente. Add the bread and simmer, partially covered, for another 5 to 7 minutes. The bread will start to dissolve into the soup and thicken it further.
Before serving, remove the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the ribollita into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Note: The soup thickens as it sits and should not be very liquidy. If you prefer it to have more liquid, feel free to add more water at the end.