I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Ribollita

Ribollita feature

As the weather is still cold, Ribollita can surely be a good way to comfort you and warm up both your body and soul.

This Italian soup represents one of the Tuscan traditional dishes that is very popular during fall or winter, after the end of the wine harvest. Although you can cook Ribollita with any ingredients you have on hand, three main ingredients must remain the same: leftover/stale Tuscan bread, cannellini beans and Tuscan kale. While you can find recipes that include chicken broth or pancetta, it is possible to adapt the soup for vegetarian or vegan foodies.

tuscany pic

Note that Tuscans do not have a rich culinary history regarding pasta dishes, as they are better known as “mangiafagioli”, bean-eaters, all over Italy. Besides, the name of Ribollita itself simply means reboiled, dating back from the Middle Ages in Tuscan countryside. Pellegrino Artusi, considered as the godfather of Italian cuisine, even nicknamed Ribollita “zuppa Toscana di Magro alla Contadina” (or lean peasant’s soup from Tuscany). Nonetheless, this soup is embedded in the Tuscan traditions of “non buttar via niente”, meaning don’t throw anything away. A wise tradition that gives a new life to leftovers and provides a sustainable attitude towards food.


This soup recipe is owed to the hard-working peasants who served the lords and ladies of the manor. The servants would pilfer the leftover bread crusts and scrape the used plates clean of their savoury juices after their masters’ feasts. Afterwards, they would soak cannellini beans in water in order to let them heat with water, garlic, rosemary and olive oil, cooking very slowly overnight. The next day, the peasants would then make use of their vegetables and chop them into chunks to add them to the pot. For instance, they would incorporate kale, onions, carrots, potatoes or about anything else edible growing in the kitchen garden. Lastly, the peasants would drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on the soup before serving it.

Ribollita is also said to get better over time, which means you can reheat the leftovers the next day and enjoy an even better soup. You can even add more cooked vegetables every day and make the soup last for a week. This way, it will seem like tasting a different soup every time you “recook” it. This might be one of the reasons explaining the name of Ribollita.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

– 250g dry cannelloni beans

– 2 sage leaves

– 1 clove garlic

– 1 red onion

– 2 carrots

– 1 medium sized potato

– 150g cavolo nero (kale)

– 150g verza (cabbage)

– 1 teaspoon of concentrated tomato paste

– 8 slices stale Tuscan bread

– Extra-virgin olive oil

– Salt

– Black pepper


– Soak the beans for one night and then boil them – this activity can be done the day before

– To make the soup: finely chop the onion and sauté until golden in the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and a bit of salt to help it not burn

– Add the carrots and potato, cut into cubes, to the onion

– Clean the kale by removing the toughest parts and cut it into strips, then add it to the pot along with the cabbage, also cut into strips

– Cover these vegetables with the cooking water from the beans, add the tomato paste, salt and pepper, and bring to a slow boil for about an hour, adding water if necessary

– Take two thirds of the beans and make them into a paste in a vegetable mill, and then add this bean paste to the soup (having boiled the latter for an hour), and cook for another 30 minutes

– In the final 10 minutes of cooking, add the whole beans check the salt and pepper, keep at simmer, and then remove from the heat

– In a large soup dish, alternate layers of the stale bread and a dew ladles full of the soup. Let sit for a few minutes and serve it hot or lukewarm

Buon appetito!


– Ribollita, a Tuscan Tradition. Sai Program. https://www.saiprograms.com/ribollita-tuscan-tradition/ (Accessed on 12/02/2020)

– Ribollita – Tuscany’s Famous Bean Soup. Italo-Americano. https://italoamericano.org/story/2017-1-23/Ribollita (Accessed on 12/02/2020)

– Ribollita, the Classic Tuscan Winter Dish. Dievole. https://www.dievole.it/en/blog/ribollita/ (Accessed 12/02/2020)

– Rachel’s Ribollita. The Florentine. https://www.theflorentine.net/2012/10/11/rachels-ribollita/ (Accessed on 12/02/2020)

Samira Joineau

Written by Samira Joineau

Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor degree in Languages, Literature and Foreign Civilizations (English). She is a student of the Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.