If you are looking for the authentic ribollita soup recipe, it’s likely that you had a good time in Tuscany! Whether my assumption is true or not, you are in the right place, cause today I want to share with you the detailed instructions to make a delicious ribollita soup at home.
Ribollita soup origins
Ribollita is the most famous soup from Tuscany, and only pappa al pomodoro (the name means “tomato mush”, but pappa is also the word toddlers use for “food”) can rival it.
Ribollita, whose name means re-boiled, is a typical poor dish, with peasant origins. The idea was to use leftover bread and the minestrone or other vegetable soup from the previous days. During the decades, the recipe included many local, cheap (but incredibly tasty) vegetables, like cannellini beans or kale (cavolo nero in Italian). The ingredients are 100% made of vegetables, then ribollita is a vegan recipe. Actually one of the few that I have the pleasure to share with you on this blog…
What makes a ribollita soup authentic?
Hearty and herbaceous, rich in leafy green vegetables, ribollita is also very satisfying: beans, potatoes and Tuscan bread add a characteristic, creamy texture. In addition, fresh thyme and rosemary deliver an aromatic twist.
Note that, being a traditional Tuscan dish, ribollita would require Tuscan bread. It is a bread that comes in large loaves, with a thick crust and no salt. Since I guess it may be hard to find real Tuscan bread abroad, you can bake at home a very good substitute using this recipe, just remove the salt.
An authentic ribollita soup is all about good, fresh ingredients (if you can find them at a farmer’s would be perfect! I usually do that and … it’s different) and time, since the preparation is easy but time-consuming. But you will be largely repaid by this pure joy of flavors, smells … and colors. Take a look at this collage from my morning preparing ribollita for the dinner and you will see why!
Now, let’s jump to the step-by-step directions to make your first homemade ribollita soup and eat like you were in Florence 🙂
Note that this time I will give you ingredients for 8-10 people. Since it is a dish that is even better re-cycled the day after, I always cook for the week!
Authentic ribollita soup
- a large pot (I chose my dutch oven)
- a strainer
- an immersion blender
- a chopping board
- a knife
- a wooden spoon
- 400 gr dried cannellini bean
- 350 gr stale Tuscan bread
- 1 bouquet kale cavolo nero in Italian
- 0.5 savoy verza
- 1 bouquet chard
- 2 small potatoes or a large one
- 3 peeled tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 celery stick
- q.s. fresh rosemary
- q.s. fresh thyme
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt (optional, according to taste)
- pepper (optional, according to taste)
- The day before, start preparing the cannellini beans. Cover the beans with tap water and let them rest for at least 6 hours. Then make them cook in water, with salt and some rosemary. When they are almost ready, drain them from water, but don't waste the water itself, you will use it to cook the vegetables. Use half of them to make a cream with the immersion blender.
- Cut the onion, the celery stick and the carrots in fine pieces.
- Add in a large pot (or a dutch oven) some extra virgin olive oil and gently cook the onion, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes.
- Peel and chop two small tomatoes. Make a small bouquet out of the rosemary and the thyme. Add both, and three peeled tomatoes, to the cooking vegetables.
- Wash in tap water the kale, the chard and the savoy. My suggestion, since the parts closer to the roots are thicker and require more time to be fully cooked, is to chop them and start adding the pieces from the root to the top. If it gets dry, pour some beans cooking water.
- I suggest to cook the hardest parts (picture, top) at least 30-45 minutes longer than the softer leaves (picture, bottom). Most savoy leaves should be considered among the hardest parts.
- Add some beans cooking water and cover the pot and let it gently boil, at low heat, for 2.5 – 3 hours. Add some beans cooking water if needed. The result should be like in the picture.
- Add the cannellini beans cream, gently mix, cover the pot and keep on cooking for another 30 minutes.
- It's almost done.. Add the cannellini beans, mix, cover the pot and keep on cooking for another 15 minutes.
- The result after 3 hours of cooking should be like in the picture.
- Now, cut some slices from the stale bread and alternate one layer of bread with one layer of ribollita. Quantities shoudl allow for two layers of bread.
- Now your first ribollita soup is ready. But… it needs to be "ribollita", so boiled twice! So, let it rest for at least 4 hours, then boil it again with some beans cooking water (or vegetable broth), and serve with some fresh extra virgin oilve oil on top. Enjoy!
- ribollita takes time. My suggestion, to have it for dinner, is to cook the beans the evening before and start the following steps in the first part of the morning
- it’s important that you use a pot that can distribute heat evenly. Traditionally, farmers used a clay pot. My choice goes, and I am really satisfied with it, a dutch oven (the same one I use also to cook risotto or to bake my bread)
If you liked this recipe, let me know in the comments. And if you like vegetables but you still want to eat tasty meals, try my pasta with chickpeas and rosemary (I recommend tagliatelle) or a creamy pumpkin risotto!