Ribollita (Vegetable, Bean and Stale Bread Soup)

Total Time:
5 hr 35 min
20 min
4 hr
1 hr 15 min

6 servings

  • 1 cup borlotti beans or other small dried bean of choice, soaked for 4 hours
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, 1/2 peeled, 1 1/2 chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 to 6 slices 1-inch thick peasant style bread, cut into coarse cubes or torn into pieces
  • About 1/4 cup EVOO, plus some for drizzling at the table
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 small ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/3 palmful
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Herb bundle of fresh parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato or dinosaur) or Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped, (about 12 ounces trimmed greens)
  • 1/2 small savoy cabbage, cored and chopped, about 2 to 3 cups
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • 2 cups tomato puree or passata
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, plus freshly grated to pass at table
  • 1 small white or red onion, finely chopped
Watch how to make this recipe.
  • Variations: For a sweeter soup, add chopped fennel to your mix. For autumn, add zucchini or butternut squash to your blend.

  • Drain the beans and place in a pot with 4 cups chicken stock, 1 clove garlic, half an onion and some salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread until deeply golden and toasted. Store in foil.

  • Heat 1/4 cup EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, remaining 3 cloves garlic, chile flakes, bay leaf and herb bundle. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, kale, cabbage and a little nutmeg. Stir. Wilt the greens, partially covered, 5 to 6 minutes more. Add the beans and their liquids and the tomato puree. Stir. Add 2 cups more stock (reserve 2 cups for the night you serve). Add the cheese rind to the soup. Simmer to combine flavors, 15 minutes. Remove 3 cups of the beans and vegetables, about half the soup, to food processor and puree. Then add back to pot. Cool and store the soup for a make-ahead meal.

  • To serve, heat the soup over medium heat, add the bread to the soup and let it absorb the liquid. Thin the soup with the remaining 2 cups of stock. Taste to adjust seasoning. Remove the herb bundle, rind and bay leaf. The ribollita is done when a wooden spoon can stand straight up in the soup. Ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with a generous drizzle of EVOO, finely chopped raw onion and cheese. Leftover soup can be fried in olive oil in a skillet like potato pancakes or hash, and topped with over easy or fried eggs.

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