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Recipes   /   Ribollita (Stale Bread and Vegetables Soup)

Ribollita (Stale Bread and Vegetables Soup)

Jan 4, 2012 by Gabriele Corcos


Aside from the stale bread, the main ingredient for Ribollita is “Cavolo Nero”,which in the US is called Tuscan Kale. It is almost the real deal, with the difference that here in America it is harvested when still small in size; I have seen kale bunches in Tuscany as tall as 3 feet… That’s why my mom had to cook it for over one hour before being able to serve it over bruschetta.
Ribollita is a dish that gets better while it sits, and can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days (no freezer for this one); Therefore the amount of ingredients that we will give you for this recipe will be enough for a soup that can either feed a small army, be an appetizer for 40, or just sit in the fridge for a few days while the whole family nibbles at it.A quick note about the bread.
We do consume a decent quantity of bread during the week that we always end up with a bag of leftovers to be used for this kind of recipes. If you’d rather plan to cook this traditional Tuscan soup in a more “produced way” you can either:

– buy a couple of loaves of bread, slice them thin and let sit for a couple of days on in a basket, cover with a kitchen towel. Make sure you stir occasionally, and if you have a sunny window, that would help.


– slice the bread and load a couple of baking sheets, dry in the oven at 250 for a couple of hour, or more. Check often, because you can not cook Ribollita with toasted bread.

Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 20 mins / Inactive Prep Time: 8 hrs / Cooking Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

  • 8 ounces dry cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 russet (baked) potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch of Tuscan kale (lacinato black kale, cavolo nero), leaves, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
  • One 15-ounce can whole peeled (pelati) tomatoes
  • 1/2 Lb stale Pane Toscano or store- bought country bread, cut into 1/2 inch- slices


Importante! If you’re short on time, or don’t feel like soaking dried beans overnight, use 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans. Rinse them, and add them to the pot later in the cooking process when the soup is thickening. Canned beans are already pretty buttery, so they don’t need to be cooked an extra hour or they’ll turn into paste.

Also, I suggest you don’t serve this soup with grated cheese, as it takes away from the flavor of the fresh vegetables.

To reheat ribollita, keep the heat low and reheat slowly so you don’t to scorch the bottom of the pot and disrupt the flavors. Add water if needed, because the bread will have absorbed the juices overnight and the soup will thicken. 

1Rinse and drain the soaked cannellini beans. Bring a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pot full of water to boil. Add the beans, making sure they’re covered by a few inches of water, and reduce the heat to medium-high.

2Cook for at least 1 hour, salting the water after 40 minutes, until tender. Drain the beans and set aside.

3In an 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the carrots, celery and onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent but not golden. Add the potatoes, kale, cabbage, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted.

4Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until it thickens considerably.

5Add the bread and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, until the crust of the bread begins falling apart.

6Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


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