Discover the Rich, Hearty Flavors of Ribollita, Tuscany’s Beloved Soup.
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Ribollita, a Tuscan bread soup, is a traditional dish made with stale Tuscan bread and vegetables. It is commonly found in various regions of Tuscany, including Siena, Florence, Pistoia, Prato, Arezzo, and the Pisa Plain. Ribollita, which means “reboiled” in Italian, is a humble peasant dish that gets its name from the practice of cooking large quantities of it (especially on Fridays) and then reheating it in a pan over the following days. The first recorded mention of this dish dates back to 1910 in Alberto Cougnet’s book, “L’arte cucinaria in Italia.”
The main ingredients in Ribollita are Tuscan kale and beans (borlotti, toscanelli, or cannellini). This semi-solid winter dish is best when the kale has been exposed to frost, making the leaves tender and sweeter. To enhance the flavor, the soup is traditionally reheated in a wood-fired oven or in a thick-bottomed pan, with a double steel-copper or steel-aluminum base to prevent sticking and burning. It is typically served with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh, sliced onions. Like other vegetable soups, Ribollita becomes more flavorful each time it is reheated.
Preparation: 1 hour
Cooking: 4 hours
Total time: 5 hours
400g dried cannellini beans
300g stale Tuscan bread
1 bunch of Tuscan kale
1/4 head of cabbage
1 bunch of chard
2 small potatoes
3 peeled tomatoes
1 large onion
1 celery stalk
Approximately 2 liters of vegetable broth or hot water
Extra virgin olive oil
Ingredient notes: If using canned beans, you’ll need 2 cans, approximately 750g. If Tuscan bread is unavailable, use a classic thick-crusted country bread or any stale bread you have on hand.
How to make Ribollita:
- Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before starting the recipe.
- Once softened, drain the beans and boil them with plenty of water and rosemary.
- Drain the cooked beans, saving the cooking water, and divide them in half. Blend one half with a hand blender and set both halves aside.
- Prepare some vegetable broth to add to the bean water, if desired.
- Finely chop the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté them in a large pot with 3-4 tablespoons of oil for 1 minute. Add the diced potatoes and tied fresh thyme.
- Sauté for 1 minute, then add the peeled tomatoes and cook for a few seconds.
- Add the cleaned, washed, and chopped Tuscan kale, chard, and sliced cabbage to the pot.
- Bring to a boil, add the bean water, cover with a lid, and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, adding hot bean water or vegetable broth as needed.
- After the vegetables have softened, stir in the bean purée.
- Cook for another 30 minutes, then add the whole beans, cover with hot broth, and cook on low heat for another 30 minutes. Season with salt.
Resting and “reboiling” the soup with stale bread:
- Use a clay pot or a casserole dish for this step.
- Place a layer of stale bread slices at the bottom of the pot and ladle some soup over them.
- Continue this process, layering bread and soup until the pot is filled. Cover with a wrap and let the Ribollita rest for at least 3 hours, or even better, overnight.
14- Add a couple of ladles of broth, a drizzle of oil, and reheat the soup over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until it’s sufficiently heated. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
And there you have it – your Ribollita is ready! Serve it warm and enjoy the rich flavors of this classic Tuscan dish!
Topics: How to Make Ribollita, Traditional Tuscan Ribollita Recipe, Homemade Tuscan Bread Soup, Authentic Ribollita Recipe, Making Ribollita at Home, Hearty Winter Soup Recipes, Vegetarian Tuscan Cuisine, Best Comfort Food Recipes, Step-by-Step Ribollita Recipe
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