Ribollita Soup : Zuppa di Ribollita

The (hopefully) last days of cold weather as we move into March and I am making a hearty, chunky soup. A typical Tuscan dish that  owes much to the tradition of cucina povera or frugal cooking, making use of stale bread and seasonal vegetables.

According to Wikipedia, it was originally made by reheating (i.e. reboiling – which is the direct translation of the word Ribollita) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day. Some sources date it back to the Middle Ages, when the servants gathered up food-soaked bread trenchers(wooden platters) from feudal lords’ banquets and boiled them for their own dinners. 

Ironically, this so called peasant food of yesteryear is packed full of health and nutrition and although we can now afford more expensive food,  many people search out these old recipes and revitalise their popularity. My recipe is loosely based on one from Jamie Oliver’s Italian cook book. 

Traditionally cavalo nero or kale is added at the end but I’ve also added some swiss chard. Infact you could add any greens you have. Guess I’m lucky as the veg patch is still full of over wintering greens, but they will bolt as soon as weather warms up.

It seems to be another Marzo e Pazzo here in Le Marche – one day sunny and nearly 20 degrees and another day 5 degrees with snow falling on the nearby hills and feeling distinctly chilly.

Looking forward to welcoming new guests in Spring on our cooking holiday weeks – still some places available


Italian Food and Flavours

Ribollita Soup : Zuppa di Ribollita

  • Delicious Ribollita

  • Add the bread at the end of cooking

  • Winter greens from the orto


3oo g  cannellini beans , fresh, or dried and soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 tomato , squashed
1 small potato , peeled
2 small  onions , peeled
2 carrots , peeled
3 sticks celery , trimmed
3 cloves garlic 
olive oil
1 pinch dried red chilli
400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes or passata
310 g cavolo nero (kale) and swiss chard, leaves and stalks finely sliced
2 large handfuls good-quality stale bread , torn into chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil



Add your  dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, tomato and potato – this will help to flavour the beans and soften their skins. Cook until tender, approx 45minutes to an hour – taste one to check they’re nice and soft. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water), and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato.

Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Heat a saucepan with a glug of olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan with the chilli. Sweat very slowly on a low heat with the lid just ajar for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes or passata and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cooked and drained beans with a little of the water they were cooked in, and bring back to the boil. Stir in the sliced cavolo (it will look like loads, but don’t worry as it will cook down), then moisten the bread with a little of the cooking water and stir it in too. The soup should be thick but not dry, so add a little more cooking water if you need to loosen it. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes – you want to achieve a silky, thick soup.

Season the ribollita with salt and pepper and stir in some good-quality  extra virgin olive oil before serving to give it a glossy velvety texture. Serve on a cold day. Even better warmed up the following day.

Good accompanied with a glass of red wine. Le Marche Rosso Piceno of course!

  • First signs of spring in Italy – Almond Blossom

  • Buds on Hazelnut Trees

  • Spears of Wild asparagus

Signs of Spring in Le Marche, Italy