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 where we fell in love with Ribollita, an ancient medieval and historic marvel. A small unassuming restaurant close to our hotel 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
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.
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.
For another hearty dish with lots of veggies and beans try this hearty vegetarian chili.
Ribollita Tuscan Vegetable Bean Soup
- 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.
I’m making this soup right now! Can’t wait to taste. I’m a little confused about the prosciutto though as I don’t see where it comes back into the pot. I’ve added a diced zucchini and some Italian chicken sausage too.
Sally Cameron says
Really? I'll check that out right away, thanks. Add it in towards the end to heat through. Hope you enjoy it!
I’ve been making Ribollita (based on Ina Garten’s recipe) for the last few years, and it’s a favorite. I add the (optional) cabbage that her recipe calls for, and as with every recipe, I increase the amount of garlic! ☺️ I also include red and yellow bell pepper (and sometimes leeks) when sautéing the carrots, celery, etc.. In the last boil/simmer, I include Parmesan rinds, and instead of putting bread in to cook, I make a mess of croutons (sourdough garlic/jalapeño/cheese loaf from our farmer’s market!) and put them in the bottom of the bowl. Pour the soup on top of croutons, grate more cheese, drizzle with good olive oil—holy cow! I think I’ll try your fennel bulb next time.
Sally Cameron says
Sounds delicious Patty. I sometimes do the Parmesan rinds too as it adds that "umami" flavor. Leeks, absolutely! Love them. Fun idea with the croutons!
Clarence wilson says
This recipe is absolutely delicious! I’m will make very soon coz of i love it, Thanks for sharinng
Sally Cameron says
Hope you enjoy it Clarence! We just finished a big pot.
This soup is best for the winters and good for us also.
Sally Cameron says
Totally agreed Sasha.
Today I'm buying the ingredients to make this. One question though...if freezing half and serving the other half over several days, should it add the bread cubes all at once, or when I am reheating the soup in small batches? Thanks.
Hi Brenda. That is a good question! My first thought was to add them when you re-heat the soup, but that would kind of be a hassle and extra step when you just want a quick meal. So I froze some with the breadcrumbs in, then thawed and heated and it was great. No problem. Freeze it with the breadcrumbs in. They do melt away and disintegrate into the soup when cooking anyway. Hope this helps.
Loved this soup and so did my family!
Sally Cameron says
Thanks Heather! So glad to hear that.
This recipe is absolutely delicious! I'm making it again today. Hubby loves it 🙂
Love to hear that Gillian. Thanks for commenting back. Always makes me happy to know my recipes are helping people!
FYI...of all the recipes I found for ribollita...yours is the best. However, I made a change of my own which you would probably love. I used Italian flavored chicken sausage and swisschard instead of kale and pancetta. I'm in love with this soup and have made it three times since September. It's a total winner!!!!
Thanks Christine! Excellent changes! Thanks for reporting back so everyone can try it this way. I love using chicken sausage and always have it in the fridge or freezer. Good job!
Chef Debbie of Yummy~issimo! says
This soup is fantastic! I typically look at recipes and change a lot of things but this is one that I made exactly as written and have shared (with Chef Sally's permission) on the radio. Thanks Chef Sally for always offering us great recipes that are easy to prepare, healthy and tasty!
I think this soup looks so good! I've been making a fair number of soups this winter and think this ribollita should go into the line up.
Beautiful photos of Italy!