Ribollita – Tuscany’s Famous Soup
Why we love it:
- 3 cups Cannellini Beans (dried beans here - see notes if using canned)
- 1 Onion (medium, small dice)
- 3 ribs Celery (small dice)
- 2 Carrots (small dice)
- 3 cloves Garlic (finally minced)
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 cups Water
- 11⁄2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 Parmesan Cheese (rind)
- 2 Roma Tomatos (small dice)
- 2 Russet Potatos (large - peeled and diced in ⅓” cubes)
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale (washed and stems removed)
- 1⁄2 head Savoy Cabbage (or green cabbage, core removed and cut into 1-2” squares)
- 2 pinchs Fresh Thyme (I wouldn't use dried, it's too intense. Just use 1 sprig or so)
- 2 Zucchinis (about ½ a pound or so)
- 1⁄2 pound Italian Bread (crusty - sliced including the crusts)
- Black Pepper (to taste)
If you can soak the beans overnight in lots of water, please do that! On the counter at room temperature is ok. Cover the beans by at least 5 inches.
The next day, drain the beans and fill the pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are tender but not falling apart. Add a scant teaspoon of kosher salt.
You can either begin the soup now, or store these beans for later. They'll last 4 days in the fridge or months in the freezer. SAVE THE COOKING LIQUID.
Puree about 1/3 of the beans with roughly half of the cooking liquid. Set aside until the recipe calls to add this to the soup.
Dice the onions, celery, carrot. Mince the garlic. Peel the potatoes and dice them.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and when its shimmering, add the diced veggies. Add a pinch of salt.
When you start to smell the veggies, turn heat down to medium and stir occasionally for about 4 - 5 minutes.
4. LIQUID + TOMATOES
When the veggies are translucent and the pot is gently steaming, add 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and the parmesan rind (if using). Stir to combine. Add the whole beans and their cooking liquid. Add the pureed beans.
Dice the zucchini and the tomatoes, add both to the soup. The skin and juices can go in as well.
Bring the pot to a full rolling boil, you can cover it all the way or partially to help this happen more quickly. After it boils, stir well and turn heat down to medium and maintain a full simmer (ie the pot has a bubble appearing and popping constantly but not splattering or disrupting the entire surface).
Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are mostly tender. Stir often and stir like you mean it to help the beans emulsify into the broth.
While its simmering, prep the greens. Wash the kale and remove the stems by pinching the stem between your forefinger and thumb and slide it along to pull off the leaves. Stack the leaves and roll it like a cigar, chiffonade into 1/4” thick strips.
Chop the cabbage in ½ and remove the outermost leaf. Cut in ½ again, to make a quarter of the cabbage and expose the root. You can now make a triangular cut on the quarter pieces to remove the core but not waste the edible leaves. Chiffonade to make thin strips like the kale.
Add the kale and cabbage to the soup, stir to combine. Add the thyme, if using, as well.
Boil soup for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are completely tender. Stir often during this time and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the beans from sticking.
Turn off the pot and STORE THIS SOUP OVERNIGHT. (You can skip this part, but to truly make "Ribollita" - that is, RE-BOILED soup, cool it completely and serve later. It is noticeably better when it sits overnight and boils again tomorrow!)
6. REBOIL + BREAD
The next day, dice your leftover bread into 1 inch squares. Bring the soup to back to a boil and stir in the bread cubes. Let them simmer for 3-4 minutes. (Don't serve the parmesan rind).
When hot, ladle in bowls. Top with a swirl of high quality olive oil (if its not really good olive oil, just skip it) and lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and black pepper if you like.