This hearty Tuscan vegetable and bean soup called Ribollita is one of the most popular soup recipes on my site. So thick, it's more like a stew. After making it recently, I decided to update the post and simplify the recipe. So if you've never made Ribollita, now is the time. I've included options for grain-free, dairy-free and vegan eaters.
Siena, Italy, is an ancient medieval and historic marvel and where we fell in love with a famous Italian soup called Ribollita. A small unassuming restaurant close the lovely hotel we stayed in looked like just the spot for lunch. How how could we resist a restaurant named for an Italian grandmother?
What is Ribollita
We were seated at a small wooden table, watching as the cozy dining room quickly filled with local families. You’ll find a hearty vegetable soup called Ribollita everywhere in Tuscany. In English, Ribollita means “reboiled”, a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week. Thrifty for us, too.
Don't let the long list scare you; a lot of it is vegetables. See the recipe card for measurements.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Prosciutto or pancetta
- Fennel bulb (white and green bulb with ribs and feathery fronds on top)
- Italian herb blend
- Ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Kale (get 1 bunch)
- Canned cannellini beans
- Low sodium chicken broth (preferably homemade)
- Bread: gluten-free sourdough bread or other light bread
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Fresh basil leaves (skip if it's not available)
- Optional garnish: grated Parmesan cheese
Substitutions and Variations
Most of the recipes edits are obvious to fit your dietary preferences such as skipping the cheese for dairy-free, and using vegetable broth for vegans.
- Omit the prosciutto for no meat
- Can't find prosciutto, swap for pancetta
- I use this gluten-free sourdough If you use regular sourdough the slices are much larger, so start with half the slices.
- For grain-free, skip the bread cubes, it is just not as thick
- If you have mixed dietary preferences in your home, you can use the crisped Prosciutto as a garnish instead of cooked in so each person can choose.
There is a bit of prep work to making ribollita with chopping all of the vegetables, but think of it as great knife skills practice. You can do your prep ahead and cook when ready. Originally I used pancetta, but prosciutto is easier; use either.
- Chop the meat and all of the vegetables. Drain and rinse the beans and open the tomatoes.
- Brown the meat briefly will crisped, remove, then saute the vegetables.
- Add kale, tomatoes, beans, broth and bread, then simmer until thickened.
- Add the fresh basil before serving and enjoy ladled into shallow wide bowls and sprinkled with Parmesan.
For another hearty dish with lots of veggies and beans try this hearty vegetarian chili.
Italian Bean Soup (Ribollita)
- Large sop pot or Dutch oven (5 ½ qt)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped or pancetta
- 1 large onion diced, 2 cups
- 3-4 large cloves garlic chopped fine
- 1 cup diced carrots 2 large
- 1 cup diced celery 2-3 ribs
- 1 cup diced fennel bulb 1 medium bulb
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cups chopped kale 5-6 large leaves without center ribs
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth preferably homemade
- 4 slices gluten-free sourdough bread, cubed small crusts removed (1 ½ -2 cups)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large heavy pot (5 ½ quarts) over medium heat. Add Prosciutto and cook until crisped, 4-5 minutes. Remove Prosciutto from the pot and set aside to be added back later.
- Add the rest of the oil to the pot and add the onion. Cook until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the carrots, celery and fennel and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the dried herbs, then stir in the kale, salt, and black and red pepper, cook 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, beans, broth and bread cubes. Turn heat up and bring soup to almost a boil, then put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low. Add the Prosciutto back in and cook for another 15 minutes. Kale will be tender and bread cubes will melt into the soup. Remover lid, stir in basil, and serve. Ladle into bowls, top with Parmesan to serve if desired.