Hearty and filling this Tuscan bread soup is one to make and eat all the cold months of the year! This (vegetarian!) Italian classic is about as comforting as it gets, packed with hearty greens, meaty beans, and plenty of rich olive oil and day old bread.

Leave it to the Italians to find the ultimate soup that warms you up, and makes excellent use of leftovers. A classic example of the simple and flavorful cucina povera* (poor cooking), this “re-boiled” soup uses day-old bread and a wide array of seasonal produce (think: swiss chard, leeks, carrots, or whatever you have in your fridge). As the flavors blend, this soup only gets tastier over a couple of days, making it the perfect weekday or weekend dinner(s)! This recipe is adapted from my Tuscan friend. I know you will love it as much as we do.

*What is the meaning of “cucina povera”?

This ribollita recipe is typical to la “cucina povera”, a traditional style of Italian cuisine that literally translates to “poor cooking. “Cucina povera” was developed by frugal Italian cooks who made the most with what they had. Centuries of transforming simple, readily-available ingredients into products that will last through a long winter resulted in iconic dishes. I remember my nonna often cooking in this manner. These kinds of recipes are simple, heartwarming, easy, delicious, and full of love!

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Simple Ingredients

There are many variations to the ribollita soup. The main ingredients can include leftover bread, cannellini beans, lacinato (dinosaur) kale, cabbage, and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, beans, chard, celery, potatoes, and onion. Here is what I like to include in my recipe:

  • Leftover bread
  • Tuscan Kale
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Whole peeled tomatoes
  • Cannellini beans
  • Bay leaf
  • Thyme
  • Chunk of parmigiano cheese (a secret that adds extra flavor to the broth!)

Make it your own by varying the veggies you have on hand! It is a great ‘clean out the fridge’ soup.

What is the meaning of ribollita?


Traditionally, ribollita (which is Italian for “twice boiled”), was basically leftover minestrone soup that was reheated (or re-boiled, hence the name ribollita); however, chunks of crusty bread were added to the leftover soup before it was served.

Story behind this ribollita recipe

This summer, in Italy, my dear friend from Tuscany shared with me her book of handwritten recipes! She come to Sardegna to vacation and see friends and relatives. We sat on the white sandy beach and thumbed through her book as we chatted and laughed over recipes, traditions, and Italian food culture. Her book of recipes was stunning to stay the least. Her penmanship is out of a calligraphy book and every recipe an absolute treasure. I am honored to share my version of her ribollita recipe with all of you. Make and share with AMORE!

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From my Cucina to Your Table. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

Made with Amore, Elena

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Print
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Ribolitta Italian bread and vegetable soup in a bowl

Tuscan Ribollita- Vegetable Bread Soup

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Leave it to Italians to find the ultimate soup that warms you up, and makes excellent use of leftovers. A classic example of the simple and flavorful cucina povera* (poor cooking), this “re-boiled” soup uses day-old bread and a wide array of seasonal produce (think: swiss chard, leeks, carrots, or whatever you hav in your fridge). As the flavors blend, this soup only gets tastier over a couple of days, making it the perfect weekday or weekend dinner(s)!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, cut into 2-inch ribbons
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans, half pureed half whole
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves and stem removed
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1 chunk, whole, (about 1 tablespoon) parmigiano cheese
  • 1 to 2 cups (2-inch) cubes stale bread
  • Optional: red pepper flakes for topping

Instructions

  1. Place the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and garlic are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 more minutes. At this stage, add the kale, and cook – keep stirring – until the greens are very soft, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon in the pot. Add 2 quarts of water, the bay leaf, the thyme, and beans. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  4. Add the bread cubes and parmigiano to the soup, and simmer until the bread is breaking apart and the soup is very thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the soup rest for several minutes, and then ladle into warmed bowls. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over each portion before serving. Optional: sprinkle a few red pepper flakes for extra heat.

Keywords: soup, tuscan soup, bread soup, vegetarian, vegetable soup, bread, winter food, Italian recipe