Ribollita, Tuscany’s Hearty Winter Soup

Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past blog I think is relevant and that you might enjoy seeing again.

This post was originally published on February 2, 2014, and updated on January 1, 2019.

Today I want to tell you about one of the tastiest dishes – and there have been many – that I encountered in my travels in Tuscany. It is the traditional winter soup called Ribollita. It’s a very stout soup and, as I understand it, there are as many variations as there are cooks who make it. The ingredients depend upon what’s in the cupboard at the time, but all of them include using day-old bread as a thickener.

This soup is wonderful for a winter’s day. It is so hearty that it pairs well with a substantial red wine, especially a Tuscan wine made with Sangiovese grapes. On top of everything else, it’s vegetarian as well!

I first encountered Ribollita in Pisa back in May last year. Our little traveling party had stopped at Bar and Food 62 not far from the Leaning Tower. I or someone in our group ordered the Ribollita and it was really good. The waiter explained it was typical Tuscan cuisine.Here’s a view from our streetside table at Bar and Food 62

Therefore, when I returned to Tuscany in December with yet another small group, I was on the lookout for this wonderful dish. I got my wish at one of the wineries we toured on the second day we were there. Then I was able to point it out to my friend Cyndie in the group. Then the search began for a Tuscan cookbook that contained the recipe.

We perused a couple of bookstores in Siena, but none of the cookbooks seemed to fit the bill. But, as with most things I decide I truly want, the perfect book soon showed up during our visit to Santa Giulia, the wine estate I posted about last week.

The book’s title is Tuscan Bread and it is published by a friend of Santa Giulia’s winemaker. The book recounts the history of bread in the region and why many people say that it isn’t Tuscan bread unless it is made without salt. It also describes how to make authentic Tuscan bread from scratch, creating and maintaining a yeast “sponge” similar to a sourdough starter.

In the back of the book are 20 recipes based on Tuscan bread. Of course, Ribollita is among them, and it is the recipe I used as a basis for the recipe that appears here. I modified it, as I do with all my recipes that appear in this blog and in my books, with the intention to make it easy for cooks in the USA to find the ingredients.

For example, the original Italian recipe calls for “Tuscan black cabbage” which, after some research, I determined to be kale or at least a close relative.

Amazon does not carry the book I used, but you can find it on the publisher’s website here.

If you’d like to try making this wonderful soup to cope with the winter weather in the US right now, here you go:

Tuscan Ribollita Recipe:

3 or 4 stalks of fresh kale or 2 handfuls of fresh spinach

1/4 of a Savoy cabbage
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 leek
1 onion
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 zucchini
1 celery stalk
2 15-ounce cans Great Northern white beans or cannellini (or 1 1/2 cups dried beans, soaked and cooked)
2 peeled tomatoesExtra virgin olive oil
8 ounces stale bread

Roughly chop the onion, kale or spinach, Savoy cabbage, chard, leek, potatoes, carrots, zucchini and celery. Saute the onion in a little extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until tender. Add the rest of the chopped veggies to the pot and cook about 10 minutes more until softened. Mash half the beans in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Add all the beans and their water to the soup pot and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 2 hours. Add water if necessary to keep the soup from getting too thick. Cube the stale bread and stir into soup. Add water if necessary. Simmer 10 more minutes. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with crusty fresh bread on the side.

Here’s my results:

So there you have it. This soup is uber-fantastic and I guarantee it will warm you up on a winter’s day. Try it!

I have to go now; I’ve made myself very hungry! Thanks for reading – leave me a comment!

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

3 thoughts on “Ribollita, Tuscany’s Hearty Winter Soup”

  1. Looks and sounds muy delicioso! I think that will be my next endeavor after I use up all my frozen black bananas in my banana walnut bread.

  2. I tried this recipe and it's fantastic! As Karren said, it's wonderful on a cold winter's day!

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