Bold Statement: Ribollita is one of my favorite foods on the planet. If you have never had a bowl of ribollita soup, then get ready to fall in love! This classic Tuscan recipe is a hearty minestra, or vegetable bean soup, that has been thickened or “reboiled” with stale bread. I fell in love with it more than 25 years ago when I lived in Florence, and I am so excited to share my tips and tricks for making authentic Italian Tuscan Ribollita at home!
Table of contents
- Why We Love This Recipe for Tuscan Ribollita
- What Is Ribollita?
- Key Ingredients For This Recipe
- Step-By-Step Instructions To Make Tuscan Ribollita
- FAQ And Expert Tips
- Additional Italian Recipes To Try
Why We Love This Recipe for Tuscan Ribollita
When I was in my junior year of college, I spent five months in the Tuscan region of Italy. And while I was there to study Renaissance art and painting, it was the food that captured my soul.
In every kitchen, enoteca, and trattoria, there was culinary artistry that I had never experienced before. But for me, it was the soup that captivated me. And if you’ve been following along for a while now, you know soup is one of my favorite things to cook. Maybe my love for these simple soul-satisfying dishes started all those years ago when I was a young 20-something experiencing the culture of such a beautiful land and people.
While most are sad to see summer go, I enjoy when soup season gets in full swing as I relish making hearty soups for my family. There is something so satisfying about chopping, layering, and cooking in such a way as to maximize the flavors. And while we enjoy a delicious Pappa al Pomodoro, a rustic Minestrone, or a nourishing bowl of Italian Wedding Soup, Tuscan Ribollita is my absolute favorite.
Simple in preparation, with hearty veggies, beans, and kale and thickened with traditional unsalted Tuscan bread, this dish transforms basic ingredients into a luscious, rich, velvety dish. It is the essence of Italian cooking with common ingredients but elevating them into a decadent presentation.
What Is Ribollita?
Ribollita is a classic Tuscan soup that’s popular throughout the region, especially in Florence. This dish is a way to use up stale Tuscan bread as authentic Tuscan bread is made without salt; it stales quickly. It’s made with a variety of hearty veggies, creamy cannellini beans, and Tuscan kale.
The first day it’s made, it’s more of a brothy soup with beans and vegetables, called minestra. When leftovers are reheated the next day, it becomes ribollita, which means reboiled. And in our opinion, it tastes even better on day two which is where this recipe starts!
Side note: in enotecas (wine bars) you can often find Ribollita Refritto which is the leftover ribollita, that is so thick, it’s cooked like a pancake batter in olive oil.
Key Ingredients For This Recipe
This is the absolute key to the taste and velvety mouthfeel of the final dish which is why we used SO MUCH! It also gets finished with more olive oil, so if you have a really high-quality EVOO use that for finishing the soup.
Italian cooking makes use of any waste, and this recipe, like Panzanella, uses stale bread. Typically, Tuscan bread is unsalted, but you can’t find that outside of Tuscany. Look for a firm sourdough (or another high-quality white rustic loaf) and let it get stale. You can put it in the fridge for a few days to help accelerate the process while preventing it from getting moldy.
This is the base of the dish made of carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Typically, the parsley would be used here too, but I added it at the end of the simmer to keep it fresher.
Potatoes, Tuscan Kale and Cabbage
Ribollita can be made with a wide variety of vegetables depending on what is in season. In Italy, Tuscan Kale is known as Cavolo Nero (Italian for black cabbage), here in the US we call it Lacinato Kale or Dinosaur Kale. In addition to the bread, the potatoes are key to making the soup nice and thick.
Traditional minestra and Ribollita are made with dried beans that are soaked and simmered. We’ve taken a shortcut and used canned cannellini beans. If you do make your beans from scratch, you’ll need 3 cups cooked beans and save the cooking liquid and use it instead of the water.
Canned Whole Tomatoes
We love the rustic texture of breaking up canned tomatoes by hand. Look for real Italian canned tomatoes such as San Marzano.
Fresh herbs add another element of robust flavor and authentic Italian taste. Thyme, rosemary, and parsley are added in towards the end of the cooking process to preserve their volatile olfactory compounds. The basil, however, is added when the dish is finished cooking as it will lose all scent if added in before this.
Ideally, you would use Pecorino Toscano to top off your bowls; however, it’s hard to find in the US. If you have an Eataly or good Italian market in your area, look for Pecorino Toscano. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese made in Tuscany and is less salty than Pecorino Romano. If you are unable to locate it, feel free to swap in Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. This dish can also be made vegan by omitting the cheese.
- White Wine
- Vegetable Broth
- Kosher Salt
Step-By-Step Instructions To Make Tuscan Ribollita
Step 1: Chop the Odori in the Food Processor
To mimic cutting the “odori” using a Messaluna, a curved knife used with a curved cutting board that’s used in traditional Italian cookery, fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic cloves through the feed tube and mince. Next, drop in the carrot and celery and finely chop (see the texture in photo 1a.) Set aside.
Return the food processor bowl to the machine and add the onion chunks. Close the lid and pulse until the onion is roughly chopped into medium-small pieces (photo 2a). Do not run the motor continuously or the onions will be too finely chopped and become watery.
Step 2: Cook Vegetables
Over a medium-high burner, heat the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot. Add the chopped carrot mixture, chopped onions, and salt and cook until vegetables and onions start to slightly brown and the soup pot forms a golden-brown patina, 8 to 12 minutes.
Step 3: Add Wine And Simmer
Increase heat to high, add wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the wine until it almost evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 4: Add Liquids, Tomatoes, Beans, Potatoes, Cabbage, And Kale
Pour in broth, water, and tomatoes. Stir in beans, potatoes, cabbage, kale, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until potatoes are fork-tender; approximately 50 to 70 minutes.
Step 5: Add Bread and Thicken
Stir in bread, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the bread is almost dissolved, and the soup is very thick. TIP: While it simmers, mash the potatoes and bread into the side of the pot with a spoon.
Step 6: Stir In The Basil
Remove from heat and add in basil.
Step 7: Finish With Pepper and Pecorino
Ladle ribollita into bowls and top with black pepper and Pecorino. Serve with a drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive on top.
FAQ And Expert Tips
Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When ready to enjoy, place in a microwave safe bowl and heat until warmed through.
Or place leftovers in a saucepan on the stove, over medium heat, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t burn; until steaming hot.
A high-quality heavy enameled cast iron pot is ideal for making soup. The wide bottom allows veggies to brown quickly while preventing overcrowding and steaming. Also, the thick bottom will prevent the ingredients from burning.
Serve with crusty bread for a hearty, filling, simply delicious homey meal. If you’d prefer a more elaborate meal, serve this soup as the main course with a side garden salad or caesar salad with homemade whole-wheat bread.
Alternatively, this could be the first course to a decadent Italian vegetarian meal of mushroom lasagna or spinach stuffed shells.
No, if you do not drink or cook with alcohol, wine can be omitted completely without effecting the taste as the tomatoes will add plenty of acidity. If omitting, skip ahead to step 4.
In Tuscan Trattorias, Ribollita is often cooked so long that there are no discernable chunks of bread which creates a luscious and velvety consistency.
If your bread is at all fresh or squishy, it can be dried out in a 300-degree oven. Once dried, tear the bread into chunks and pulse in the food processor to make rustic bread crumbs. Doing this will result in a Ribollita that more closely resembles what is found in a Trattoria.
Additional Italian Recipes To Try
- Healthy Chicken Piccata is made with tart lemons, capers, white wine, and parsley. This delicious twist on the classic Italian lemon chicken is ready in under 30 minutes and is loaded with healthy protein. Serve with cauliflower rice for a lower-calorie meal or whole-wheat angel hair pasta for a more traditional pairing.
- This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30 approved. Cook low and slow in the crockpot for 6 hours for melt-in-your-mouth chicken with a tender and savory vegetable sauce for one comforting and satisfying meal.
- Slow Cooker Bolognese can be served any night of the week for a healthy meal that looks and tastes like you took all day to prepare. This dish freezes incredibly well, making this perfect for meal-prepping. Plus, it can be made healthier by swapping in ground turkey without sacrificing any of that amazing cooked-all-day Bolognese flavor.
- Easy 10-minutes Puttanesca Sauce made with anchovy, capers, and olives with garlic and tomato. Toss with spaghetti or serve over one of your favorite kinds of pasta for an easy pantry-friendly meal.
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup is quick and easy. This healthy, low-calorie soup has authentic slow-simmered Italian flavors but is ready in 35 minutes!
- 20-minute Cherry Tomato Panzanella is a warmed version of the classic Tuscan bread salad. This simple and humble dish is perfect as a main course or alongside chicken, fish, or eggs.
- This Vegetarian Carbonara with Mushrooms is a decadent meatless pasta dish that even meat lovers will enjoy! Serve as a main course or pair with Air-Fried Cauliflower or Roasted Brussels Sprouts for a complete hearty meatless meal!
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts Pasta Carbonara is peppered with tender shredded and sauteed Brussels sprouts and crisp, smoky bacon. This dish comes together in 20-minutes and makes a delicious and easy weeknight meal!
- This Basil Pesto is a classic and authentic recipe made with fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and is ready in just 5 minutes! This sauce freezes well too, so; double the batch, freeze one, and pull out when you are looking for a quick and flavorful weeknight meal any time of the year!
If you love Mediterranean-inspired dishes like this ribollita recipe, be sure to check out my collection of these recipes that include pasta dishes, homemade soups, salads, side dishes, and of course, main courses. These recipes are inspired by the cuisine of the region but are made simple for today’s busy home cook!
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make these recipes, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Ribollita is a classic velvety Tuscan winter soup full of hearty veggies, creamy cannellini beans, Tuscan kale and, thickened with stale bread.
- 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch chunks
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 sweet onion, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, or to taste
- ¼ cup dry white wine, preferably Tuscan such as Vernaccia di San Giminano
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 medium thin-skinned red or gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
- 3 cups savoy or green cabbage, chopped
- 3 cups chopped Tuscan Kale (lacinato kale or Cavolo Nero)
- 7 ounces stale firm white bread or sourdough, cut into cubes
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- Freshly ground pepper and Pecorino or Parmesan (optional) for serving
- Fit food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and allow it to mince. Drop in carrot and celery and allow to finely chop. Pieces should be the size of a pea or smaller. Set aside. Return the food processor bowl to the machine and add the onion chunks. Close the lid and pulse only until the onion is roughly chopped into medium-small pieces like a rustic dice.)
- Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium- high heat. Add the chopped carrot mixture, chopped onions and salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables and onions are starting to take on brown color and the bottom of the pot is forming a golden browned patina (fond), 8 to 12 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and add in wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the wine until it almost evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour in broth, water and tomatoes. Stir in cannellini beans, potatoes, cabbage and kale and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the potatoes are fork tender, 50 to 70 minutes.
- Stir the breadcrumbs into the soup along with the parsley, thyme and rosemary. Simmer again, pressing the potatoes and bread into the side of the soup pot to mash them with the spoon. Cook until the bread has almost dissolved, and the soup is very thick, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the heat. Stir in basil.
- Ladle ribollita into bowls and top with pepper and Pecorino. Serve with extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top.
- If you do not drink or cook with alcohol the wine can be omitted completely. Just skip ahead to step 4. The tomatoes add plenty of acidity.
- Tip: In Tuscan Trattorias the Ribollita is often cooked so long that there are no discernable chunks of bread which make the soup very luscious and velvety. If your bread is at all squishy, you can dry it out in 300° oven. You can also tear the bread into chunks and pulse it in the food processor to make rustic bread cubes. This will result in Ribollita more like that found in a Trattoria.
- Make Ahead: This reheats beautifully in the microwave. If heating on the stove, stir often so that it doesn’t burn. It will be thick!
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
- Calories: 440
- Sugar: 8 g
- Fat: 19 g
- Carbohydrates: 54 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Protein: 13 g