Ribollita Tuscan Vegetable Bean Soup

By Sally Cameron on October 14, 2018

Gluten-Free, Soups, Stews & Chilies, the daniel plan, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

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.

Ribollita in Siena, Italy

Famed for its cuisine, art, cathedral and Il Palio horse race, Siena is an ancient medieval and historic marvel. It’s the scene of storybooks, postcards and movie sets. Exploring cobblestone alleyways and stopping at every turn to take photographs left us in need of a warm lunch. A small unassuming restaurant close to our hotel looked like just the spot.  How how could we resist a restaurant named for an Italian grandmother?

Ribollita|AFoodCentricLife.com

Ribollita|AFoodCentricLife.com

Osteria Nonna Gina & 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”. Ribollita is a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week.

A steaming bowl of ribollita arrived. We sprinkled a little fresh Parmesan cheese over the top, and with every bite quickly learned why this soup was famous. Complete with a good glass of local Chianti, we had a warm and comforting lunch. I knew I had to make it at home.

Cooking Ribollita at Home

I found inspiration from Ina Garten, then adapted it to recreate what we enjoyed in Italy. With so many vegetables, there is a bit of prep work to making ribollita, 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 to find so my updated recipe uses that.

Ribollita|AFoodCentricLife.com

Ingredient Notes and Dietary Options

  • For vegans or vegetarians, use vegetable broth and omit the prosciutto
  • Homemade vegetable broth is easy to make and beats the store stuff. Here is my recipe. Make it and freeze in batches
  • For gluten-free bread I use this gluten-free sourdough (no dairy, eggs, soy, vegan and GF). Found it frozen at Whole Foods or locally at Mothers Market
  • If you use regular sourdough and not gluten-free, the slices are much larger, so start with half
  • For dairy-free, skip the Parmesan cheese as garnish
  • If you do not eat pork, skip the Prosciutto (or Pancetta)
  • For grain-free, skip the bread cubes, it is great without 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.
  • My original recipe used pancetta, but Prosciutto is more widely available. If you use pancetta, drain off excess fat or use it to cook the onion.

Ribollita | AFoodCentricLife.com

Originally posted 1/17/2011

Nutrition Facts
Ribollita | Tuscan Vegetable Soup |Siena, Italy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 337 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 17mg6%
Sodium 737mg32%
Potassium 669mg19%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 8279IU166%
Vitamin C 60mg73%
Calcium 224mg22%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ribollita | Tuscan Vegetable Soup |Siena, Italy

This hearty, thick soup is filled with vegetables, beans and bread cubes that melt in to create a thick, stew-like consistency. Perfect for a cold day when you need something warming, and a great way to use up vegetables and bread in the Italian tradition. I started with a recipe from Ina Garten and adapted it to what we had in Italy. For a vegetarian or vegan version, use homemade vegetable broth and skip the pancetta or Prosciutto (or use it as a garnish). Leftovers are great and freeze well. 
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Bean, Italian, Ribollita, Soup, Vegetable
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 Yield 2 1/2 quarts
Calories 337kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
  • 3 ounces prosciutto chopped
  • 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 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 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 1/2 -2 cups)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese optional

Instructions

  • Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large heavy pot (5 1/2 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. 

Notes

Recipe Notes: This soup is even better the next day. I like it very thick as we had it in Italy. If you want a more brothy soup, add more broth. Leftovers freeze well. 
To use dried beans start here: Soak 1/2 a pound of dried cannellini beans overnight in a large bowl or pot, covered with cold water to cover by several inches. Cover with plastic film or a lid and refrigerate overnight.  If you forgot to soak the beans overnight, use the quick soak method, below. 
Quick Soak Bean Method: Rinse the beans in cold water, place them in a large, heavy pot (like a Le Creuset Dutch Oven) and cover with cold water by about 3″. Bring the beans to a boil and bowl for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off. Cover pot and remove from the heat. Allow beans to sit for an hour. The beans are ready to use as if they were soaked.
To cook dried soaked beans: Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and continue simmering until beans are tender, about 15 minutes longer.  Timing will depend on how old the beans are. Set the beans aside in their liquid to cool.

Nutrition

Calories: 337kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 737mg | Potassium: 669mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 8279IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 3mg
20 Comments
  1. Nan - January 18th, 2011

    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!

  2. Chef Debbie of Yummy~issimo! - January 20th, 2011

    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!

  3. Hearty Vegetable Winter Soup | chocolate & carrots - February 8th, 2011

    […] adapted from Sally Cameron […]

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  5. Christine - November 5th, 2013

    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!!!!

  6. Sally - November 5th, 2013

    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!

  7. Gillian - February 24th, 2014

    This recipe is absolutely delicious! I’m making it again today. Hubby loves it 🙂

  8. Sally - February 24th, 2014

    Love to hear that Gillian. Thanks for commenting back. Always makes me happy to know my recipes are helping people!

  9. Heather - April 24th, 2014

    Loved this soup and so did my family!

  10. Sally Cameron - October 16th, 2018

    Thanks Heather! So glad to hear that.

  11. Brenda - September 22nd, 2014

    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.

  12. Sally - September 23rd, 2014

    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.

  13. Sasha - March 20th, 2018

    This soup is best for the winters and good for us also.

  14. Sally Cameron - October 16th, 2018

    Totally agreed Sasha.

  15. Clarence wilson - May 26th, 2018

    This recipe is absolutely delicious! I’m will make very soon coz of i love it, Thanks for sharinng

  16. Sally Cameron - October 16th, 2018

    Hope you enjoy it Clarence! We just finished a big pot.

  17. Patty - January 7th, 2019

    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.

  18. Sally Cameron - January 8th, 2019

    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!

  19. Laura - January 25th, 2019

    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.

  20. Sally Cameron - January 29th, 2019

    Really? I’ll check that out right away, thanks. Add it in towards the end to heat through. Hope you enjoy it!

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