Ribollita – The Tuscan Stew you Should be Eating Regularly

Ribollita – The Tuscan Stew you Should be Eating Regularly

Ribollita is a thick Tuscan stew - dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, thickened with day-old bread. It is hearty, filling, infinitely nourishing, and flat-out, the sort of food I crave. The amount of kale you collapse into each pot is impressive, and you'll be patting yourself on the back before, during, and after you eat. Here are the details - it's a soup I make constantly this time of year.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread
I should mention, with ribollita, it's one of those things where there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks. I normally use whole canned tomatoes this time of year - torn up. But had crushed tomatoes on hand, and they worked out nicely. You can use canned beans, beans cooked from dried, or cooked beans you've frozen and thawed. As far as guidelines go? Your ribollita should be thick - eventually. A sloppy sounding, bread stew. Use day old bread, preferably a rustic loaf cut (or torn) into big chunks. The bread absorbs the broth and simmers into beautifully plump zones of pillowy dumplings.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Shortcuts

This isn't a difficult soup to cook, although it does require some chopping. If you're looking for a few ways to shave off some prep time. Use canned beans, and buy pre-washed & chopped kale.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Ribollita adaptations & toppings

There are a bunch! In addition to the tweaks I mentioned up above, I suspect a number of you will want to know how to make it GF. Yes, you can absolutely make it without the bread. it's not the same stew, and not really ribollita, but it is still wonderful - just bump up the amount of beans you use (both the whole & mashed).  I like to add a bit of lemon zest to each bowl for a bit of brightness, and because I can't help myself. And I also like the saltiness of a few olives alongside the kale, so that's a little bonus as well. I'll also drizzle a little thinned out pesto on top if I have it on hand, or, an herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, and marjoram together.Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Freezer-friendly

This is a freezer friendly stew. I like to make an extra-large pot of it, let it cool, and transfer it to freezer-safe containers. It's good for a month or so frozen. If I know it's a pot primarily bound for the freezer, I sometimes hold off on adding the bread. I'll add it when I reheat later. But really, you can do it either way.

I hope you love this, and I hope you make it. It has all the good stuff in one pot. Enjoy! -h

 

Ribollita

4.09 from 58 votes

As far as choosing beans, I usually opt for cannellini. On the bread front, I often use a loaf of day-old whole wheat sourdough, but have at times opted for ciabatta. Canned beans can be used here, the equivalent is roughly two or three 15-ounce cans. As far as the kale goes, look for cavolo nero - a craggy evergreen-hued kale that might also be labeled lacinato or Tuscan kale. The ribollita is pictured here drizzled with a simple herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, and marjoram together.

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 14- ounce / 400 ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound / 16 ounces / 450g cavolo nero (lacinato kale, Tuscan kale), stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
  • 4 cups / 22 oz / 620g cooked white beans
  • 1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225g crustless loaf of bread
  • 1 1/2 + teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • lots of well-chopped oily black olives
Instructions
  1. In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the cavolo nero, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups / 2 liters water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water - until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 minutes or so. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.
  3. Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or "ribollita" meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.
Notes

Makes a large pot of soup - enough for 10 servings.

Serves
10
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • What a delicious soup! I love your soup recipes - never a dull one in the bunch. They're always so healing, healthy, delicious. Your freezer rummaging reminds me that I have several Parmesan rinds in my freezer that I keep forgetting - they need to be tossed in my next batch of broth!

    Alta
  • Wow, what a soup - chock full of nutrition, can't wait to try it. Perfect timing too as I'm having a real making soup week or two here. Your freezer contents are so interesting! One of my 'thing's this year is to get better at labelling those handy leftovers for one thing. Thanks for the extra inspiration to get going on that Heidi. As always, wonderful sounding recipe and can't wait to make it - this week!

    Naomi
  • OMG, it is sooooooooooooo good! I just ate 3 bowls and I put some of my petrified rinds in it while cooking it. Thank you again.

    susan McKee-Nugent
  • oh i loooove ribollita! i had no idea it was so easy to make. I'll try this this weekend.

    linda
  • That is one impressive freezer! I wish I mine was that well stocked! Currently it only contains frozen bananas, corn, peas and vegan truffles. Your recipes are so delightful!

    elizabeth
  • That is one impressive freezer! I wish I mine was that well stocked! Currently it only contains frozen bananas, corn, peas and vegan truffles. Your recipes are so delightful!

    elizabeth
  • i guess i am not the only one who lives in an area where no one has ever heard of lacinato kale; i know about it from a larger city where i formerly lived. and substitutions are usually possible. i have not tried this recipe but have found others of your recipes quite good.,

    n. voit
  • No question about it...this is what I'm making tonight! Thanks Heidi; this looks fabulous...I can't wait for dinner....I just purchased a huge bundle of kale and this recipe is perfect!

    The Healthy Apple
  • Or there's pasta fagioli. Add a can of borlotti beans to a thick tomato sauce (made with carrotsand celery as well as tomato and onion), then some cooked pasta, then some shredded basil leaves and some grated parmesan. S'easy. Suits our current weather in the UK- sub-zero day after day.

    Martin Yarnit
  • Mmm, I'm so excited about this recipe. I have a lovely bunch of kale to use up and this will be perfect. :-)

    Krista
  • Ahh, a perfect soup for this dismal, dreary gray weather! It looks divine... I almost want to take a spoonful of it now. And I love your freezer contents! Far more interesting than mine, though it has reminded me I need to start freezing my beans too. Thanks again for another perfect recipe!

    Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well
  • I've been reading your blog for several months, Heidi, and really appreciate your emphasis on natural and whole ingredients. It is also very nice that you include different systems of measurements for your recipes. I love soups like this in the winter that work for dinner and then leftover lunches. I made a curried lentil and greens soup this past week that warmed me to the core. Thanks for the recipe and beautiful posts.

    laura from darkREDcrema
  • I love soups that include kale and white beans. I will be giving this one a try for sure!

    Christie @ Honoring Health
  • Ribollita is such a humble soup, but couldn't be better on a cold day. It's not the most photogenic soup but yours is quite beautiful. Thanks for the recipe!

    Ellen
  • WOW, this sounds amazing! I'd love a bowl of that today!

    Simply Life
  • loved olive's suggestion for the kale--a great way to keep it on hand, and storage-friendly. on the theme of storage, cleaning out the freezer and cupboards--you're right--it's time! we decided hereon to stop using canned anything unless we've canned it ourselves. the BPA liner in cans is one toxic thing we think we can live without. until summer, tetra-packed pomi tomatoes are the answer for us, supplementing with roasting fresh ones.

    thatgirlinnewyork
  • Now I know what I'll do with the left over Cavolo nero I bought to make a green soup! This soup sounds yummy, but if you're gluten free would it be appropriate to use brown rice as a substitute for the bread? Any thoughts? Thanks for all your amazing recipes!

    Barbara@rootsandseeds.com
  • Yum. I have been looking for a good ribollita recipe for years. Will try this next week - thanks!

    Suzi
  • I have a vacuum packer. In my younger days I wouldn't have been caught dead with such a bourgeois appliance in my kitchen, now I use it frequently to freeze leftovers and store things like flour and ingredients I don't use very often (I have to eat gluten free so have a lot of little bits of exotic this and that). What the ads say is true: food stays fresher much longer. The downside is that I feel less guilt about wasting food, so the freezer can fill up pretty fast!

    MaryG
  • I wonder if spinach could be used instead of kale? HS: As far as alternatives go, the lacinato kale is quite distinctive, and has structure. I'd swap in chard as a first choice, spinach as a second choice.

    Rachel
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