Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup, a hearty potage made with bread and vegetables. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, beans, chard, Lacinato kale, and onion. Its name literally means “reboiled”.
Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins. It was originally made by reheating (i.e. reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day. Some sources date it back to the Middle Ages, when the servants gathered up food-soaked bread trenchers from feudal lords’ banquets and boiled them for their own dinners.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, diced
- 4 medium-large carrots, peeled and diced <em>(about ½kg)</em>
- 2 ½ cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash
- 1 swede, peeled and diced
- 3 large stalks celery, diced
- 1 bunch <a href="https://aussietaste.com.au/glossary/cavolo-nero/" target="_blank">lacinato kale</a>, stemmed, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 <a href="https://aussietaste.com.au/glossary/bouquet-garni/" target="_blank">bouquet garni</a>
- 2 cups cooked beans, such as cannellini plus 1 cup bean-cooking liquid or water<em> (if using canned beans)</em>
- 100 g stale rustic crusty bread, cut into 2cm cubes
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese, for serving <em>(optional)</em>
- In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat with garlic. Cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and very lightly golden. Add onion, leek, carrots, squash, swede, and celery and cook, stirring, until slightly softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add enough water to slightly cover vegetables <em>(about 6 cups) </em>along with kale and bouquet garni and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat to maintain simmer and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.
- Stir in beans and their cooking liquid <em>(or 1 cup water if using canned beans)</em>. Add bread, stir well, and simmer until bread is very soft and breaking down, about 15 minutes. Add water, ½ cup at a time, if soup becomes too thick and dry.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- The soup can be served at varying consistencies: more wet and broth-like, similar to a thick, chunky soup, or cooked down until thickened like a porridge. To serve at any consistency, drizzle with fresh olive oil and top with freshly ground black pepper and grated cheese <em>(optional)</em>.