Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ribollita Soup

Ah, Ribollita soup.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. 

Ribollita soup is everything I love about Tuscany, everything I love about Italy, and everything I love about food in general.  I first had ribollita soup ten years ago in Florence and if I close my eyes I can remember that moment perfectly.  Mmmmmmmm.  It was also the first night I had ever had wine so the events after the soup become a bit hazy.  Good thing the soup was the first course or else who knows what kinda soup I'd be posting about.

 It's hearty, soul satisfying, and one of those dishes that warms you up from the inside out.  Nomma nomma ding dong.

So I wish I could tell you to not get overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients because it's so easy and only takes a pinch! That's not entirely true.  This dish does take a little TLC but if you have the time, it's totally worth it.  Also, if you take the time to whip it up over the weekend, you'll have left overs to enjoy over the week.

Cannelloni Beans
Savoy Cabbage
Sourdough Bread
Low Sodium Chicken Stock
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Olive Oil

I ran out of room in my pic, so here are the last three ingredients.

Heat up the olive oil in a large sauce pan.  I used a 6 quart pan and it worked perfectly.

 Saute the pancetta and onions in the oil until the onions begin to turn translucent.  About 8-10 minutes or so.

Add the chopped carrots and celery and garlic and stir to incorporate.  Cook for another 8-10 minutes. 

While it's cookin' away, coarsely chop the cabbage and kale.

Add the cabbage, kale, and basil to the pot and stir.  You could chop the basil, but I like leaving it whole. 

Add the entire can of tomatoes, sauce and everything.  The juice and weight of the tomatoes will help wilt the cabbage and kale.

Give everything a stir and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Everything will wilt down and reduce to about half the volume.

Add the beans.  I used canned beans because I don't have the patience or the time to soak beans.  Who soaks beans?  Not me.  Actually my Mom does when she's making baked beans but that's different.  Keep soaking those beans, Mom.

Pour the chicken stock in and bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and then simmer for another 20 minutes.

This is what you'll be working with.

Throw in the cubed sourdough bread.  As you'll see it's not really cubed. I just removed the crusts and tore it into pieces.

 ...stir it all together.  This smelled EXACTLY like the kitchen in Tuscany at our cooking class.  Sigh.

At this point, taste for seasoning.  Mine needed some pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

You could leave the soup hearty and chunky like this, but just zapping it a couple of times with the immersion  blender helped bring the soup together.  I still like it hearty and want to see the veggies, so I just blended it a little.

If you don't have an immersion blender, no problem.  Just spoon a couple of cups into a blender or a food processor and blend that and then add it back to the soup.  CAREFUL if you do this though.  Make sure you use a dish towel to hold the top of the blender or the food processor if you are working with hot liquid.  I MEAN IT.  The heat can make the top of the blender fly off and you will have ribollita soup on your ceiling until the cows come home.  Not to mention third degree burns.


For the final touch, add some freshly grated parm.

When I was in Florence, they finished the ribollita soup with a drizzle of olive oil.  This is totally optional, but since I snagged some Tuscan olive oil over Christmas at a gift swap I decided I would put it to good use.  Thanks Lesley for bringing foodie gifts to the swap.  Love you.

Amazing.  This is the definition of Winter comfort food.

Stir in the olive oil and the parm...hello therrrrrrrrrrrre.

If you are really smart like me, you'll pick up some crusty French bread to dip in.  I didn't use my spoon once.

Stir, dip, sop up, eat, repeat.  Boy, I love food.  Stay hungry!

Ribollita Soup Recipe (adapted from Ina Garten)
3 Pieces Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
6 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Cup Loose Whole Basil Leaves (3/4 ounce plastic container)
2 Onions, chopped
1/4 Lbs Pancetta, chopped
1 15 oz Can Cannelloni Beans
1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan, more for serving
4 Cups Savoy Cabbage, coarsely chopped
4 Cups Kale, coarsely chopped
4 Cups Sourdough Bread, crusts removed and bread cubed
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 28 oz Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Olive Oil, plus more for serving

Saute onions and pancetta in olive oil for 8-10 minutes over medium high heat until onions begin to soften and start to become translucent.  Add celery, carrots, onions, garlic and cook for another 8-10 minutes until veggies begin to soften.  Add kale, cabbage and basil and stir.  Add tomatoes and cook for another 8-10 minutes.  Add beans and chicken stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.  Add bread, stir and cook for another 10 minutes.  If desired, blend part of the soup until smooth, leaving the rest of the soup chunky and rustic.  Add Parmesan cheese to soup and stir.  Serve with more parm and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.  YUM!


  1. This looks great and is extremely similar to a recipe I have for minestrone thickened with bread. Do you know if there's a difference btw minestrone and ribollita? thanks as always for sharing!

    1. Hi Ellie - send me the link to your minestrone, I'd love to check it out. The two soups are very similar, but I know minestrone usually has pasta, such as ditalini. Ribolita doesn't usually have pasta and is instead thickened with bread. Sounds like you've combined the two which sounds amazing! All I really know is that both are delicious :)

  2. Pasta! Didn't think of that. Though it's not in this minestrone recipe I have. It's from the Williams Sonoma Bride and Groom cookbook. I think it might actually be Ribollita, now that I know what Ribollita is! Here's the link (hopefully it works!):

  3. I recently saw Kale washed and packaged in Trader Joes and I was wondering what to do with it. Thank you for the idea.

  4. I don't have the heart to soften any of my bread, can I toast it first? It may just end up all garlic bread with a very brothy soup. I honestly can't help muyself

    1. haha i love crusty bread too. here's a solution - buy EXTRA bread and use the middle for the soup and keep the crusts to make garlic bread :)

  5. Next time Jaisa makes this, we are doing it in the bathtub.

    1. *Cooking Ribollita soup in the bathtub!

  6. Then you're going to need more than 4 cups of bread!

  7. This looks so very yummy and kinda similar to a Pasta Fagioli soup that I make. I like how you use the immersion blender too.

    1. mmmm if you are ever in Chicago try the Pasta Fagioli at La Scarola. Best I have EVER had.

  8. This looks so so good! Love all the veggies.

  9. Mm, I made this last night, and it was great! I would probably add more beans, carrots and celery, and take out a little cabbage just because I wasn't a huge fan of the cabbage-y texture. But the taste (and smell!) was fantastic! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Your way sounds great too :) Yum.

  10. Think this would freeze okay?

    1. I've actually never had left overs so I haven't tried to freeze it but I'm sure it would freeze just fine.

  11. Can't wait to try this mouth is watering! Do you think it would still be good if I made this a day in advance or would the bread absorb too much liquid? Thanks!

  12. Jon and I have made this twice now. It finally gave us a reason to unpack the Cuisinart his parents gave him years ago. Such a delicious, hearty soup, and super easy to make. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I made this tonight omitting the cabbage and doubling the kale, and it was delicious! I was afraid it was going to be a little bland (for my tastes) at first, but the sourdough really made it. I also love the blending adds so much more body and depth. Thank you for the step by step photos and for the recipe too, of course :)

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  15. looks and sounds delicious. will be making it this week.


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