Tuscan Bean Soup, otherwise known as Ribollita, is a 15th century traditional fall and winter soup, brimming with seasonal superfoods like kale and squash.
“Ribollita literally means ‘reboiled,’ in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best. Its origins seem to latch back to medieval times when the servants were given the azyme bread in which the meat of the nobility was served on and they boiled it in a soup with vegetables and herbs found in surrounding fields. The quantities were large and lasted for several days, hence boiling the soup over and over with the result of being it tastier each time.”
While there are many variations of Ribollita, most of which are dictated by the vegetables you find in the larder on any given crisp day, most recipes call for cannellini beans, kale, squash and thyme.
This is our variation of a delicious, hearty soup. Served with a couple of slices of toasted country-style bread– and it’s a complete meal.
A Classic Ribollita: Tuscan Bean Soup Recipe
1 1⁄2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight (or 2 15-ounce cans)
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1⁄2 yellow onion, chopped, plus rings for garnish
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic (3 minced, 1 halved)
10 oz. butternut squash peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes (about 2 cups)
1 small zucchini, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
4 large kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1 medium waxy-style potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, reduced sodium, plus extra water if needed
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (1 teaspoon dried)
8 thick slices country-style bread
Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
Drain beans and transfer to a 3-qt. saucepan and add 4-5 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 40–45 minutes.
If you are using canned beans, skip the first step.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and minced garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the squash, kale, potato, tomatoes with liquid, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Season with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.
Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 5-10 minutes or until the beans are soft. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves.
Meanwhile, toast the bread and rub it with the cut end of the halved garlic clove. Drizzle each toast with 1 tbsp. oil. To serve, place 1 to 2 pieces toasted bread in the bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle soup with remaining oil.