Ribollita is a Tuscan white bean soup that’s thickened with day-old bread. Filled with flavorful vegetables, it’s a delicious, comforting meal in a bowl.
Ribollita, a classic Tuscan soup, is the definition of a delicious meal made with simple ingredients. We’re talking really simple—this flavorful Italian soup was originally a way to stretch leftovers. It was made by reheating bean and vegetable soup and adding day-old bread to thicken it. In fact, ribollita means “reboiled.”
My ribollita recipe doesn’t start with leftovers. But in the Italian tradition, it does deliver rich flavor with basic ingredients. I begin by sautéing onion, carrot, and celery in a generous glug of olive oil. Then, I add garlic, fresh rosemary, and a splash of white wine. When the wine cooks down, tomatoes, beans, broth, and a Parmesan rind go into the pot. It all simmers together so that the flavors can develop, and then I finish the soup with Tuscan kale and cubes of bread. Tip: Serve the soup with more toasted bread cubes (aka croutons!) on top for crunch.
This ribollita recipe is savory, hearty, and comforting. To me, it’s the perfect cold weather meal. I hope you love it too!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this ribollita recipe:
- Bread, of course! If you have a hunk of stale bread on your counter, now’s the time to use it! If you don’t, follow the instructions in the recipe below for toasting fresh bread. I recommend using ciabatta, country bread, or good crusty sourdough.
- Onion, carrot, and celery – These vegetables create the aromatic base of the soup, known as a soffritto in Italian. You’ll sauté them in olive oil before adding the other ingredients. Tip: For a delicious variation on this recipe, try using fennel instead of celery. Its anise-like flavor adds great complexity to the soup!
- Garlic – It deepens the soup’s savory flavor.
- Fresh rosemary – For woodsy, citrusy flavor. Not a rosemary person? Use fresh thyme instead.
- Vegetable broth – Make homemade vegetable stock, or use store-bought.
- Dry white wine and diced tomatoes – They make the broth tangy and bright.
- Beans – You can’t make Tuscan bean soup without beans! I like to use creamy white beans, such as cannellini beans, but cooked cranberry beans work nicely too.
- Kale – Any variety works here, but Tuscan kale, also called lacinato kale or cavolo nero, is especially delicious.
- Parmesan cheese – Simmer a Parmesan rind in the soup to add rich, nutty flavor, and serve with grated Parmesan on top. If you’re vegetarian, be sure to look for a brand made with vegetarian enzymes (BelGioioso makes a good one). If you’re vegan, feel free to skip it.
- And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Ribollita
If you’re starting with fresh bread, the first step in this recipe is toasting it. Cut or tear it into roughly 1-inch pieces, and spread it in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 to 20 minutes, or until dry. As compared to fresh bread, the dry bread will better soak up flavor and meld into the soup.
Next, cook the soffritto. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, salt, and several grinds of pepper and cook until the vegetables soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, simmer the soup. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and wine followed by the tomatoes, broth, beans, and Parmesan rind. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes to develop the flavors.
Finally, add the kale and bread. Uncover the soup and remove the Parmesan rind. Stir in the kale and cook until it wilts. Add half the bread and season to taste, adding more bread if you prefer a thicker ribollita soup.
Let’s talk bread! The more you add to the soup, the thicker it will be. Ribollita can be very thick. In her cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat, Samin Nosrat notes that her favorite Tuscan ribollita is served on a plate!
But the consistency of your ribollita is up to you. I recommend starting with half the bread and adding more as desired.
Whatever you do, make sure to save some of the toasted bread for serving with the soup. It adds satisfying crunch to this otherwise soft meal!
Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with toasted bread for crunch. Drizzle with olive oil, and shower with grated Parm. I also love to sprinkle red pepper flakes on my bowl for heat.
This ribollita recipe is best right after it’s made, as the bread soaks up more and more broth the longer it sits. If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but expect the bread to absorb much of the broth in the fridge.
If you want to make the ribollita ahead, I recommend keeping the bread separate until you’re ready to serve. Fully prepare the vegetable and bean soup, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stovetop, adding bread as desired to thicken it.
More Favorite Soup Recipes
If you love this recipe, try one of these hearty soups next:
Want to try another Tuscan dish? Check out my panzanella recipe!
Ribollita is a Tuscan soup that’s filled with beans and vegetables and thickened with bread. Made with simple ingredients, this classic Italian dish is a hearty, comforting meal in a bowl.
- 8 ounces crusty sourdough bread or ciabatta bread, ideally stale, torn
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks or 1 medium fennel bulb, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1½ cups cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- Parmesan rind, plus grated cheese for serving
- 1 (8-ounce) bunch lacinato kale, stemmed, leaves torn
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If using fresh bread, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the bread in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until dry. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, salt, and several grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until very soft.
Add the garlic, rosemary, and wine. Stir, then add the tomatoes, broth, beans, and Parmesan rind. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Uncover and remove the Parmesan rind. Stir in the kale and cook for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Stir in half the bread and season to taste. If you like a thicker ribollita, add more bread.
Ladle the ribollita into bowls. Top with more bread, if desired. Serve with drizzles of olive oil and grated Parmesan.