The famous ribollita, literally meaning ”reboiled”, is a thick bread and vegetable Tuscan soup dating from the Middle Ages and still served all over Italy.
It is a staple of ”la cucina povera”, or poor people’s cooking, peasant cooking, so it is made with simple and inexpensive ingredients like stale bread, white beans, and common vegetables, usually including Tuscan kale, chard, potatoes and carrots. A ribollita is nothing else than reboiled minestrone to which bread was added.
The more you reheat it, the better it gets so don’t hesitate to make it ahead of time. It is the quintessential winter soup and since winter seems to want to stay with us longer than usual this year, I felt I needed to treat myself. Our two year-old could not get enough of it. Treat yourself! Feel free to omit the cheese and make it vegan.
Tuscan bread and vegetable soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then chopped
1/2 bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped
1/2 bunch chard, chopped
1/2 small green cabbage, chopped
enough vegetable or chicken broth or water
1 parmesan rind (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 can cannellini beans, drained
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 day old Italian-style bread
salt and pepper to taste
extra-virgin olive oil for garnish
grated parmesan for garnish
Day 1- Prepare the soup
1. In a dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Do not let the onion brown.
2. Add the garlic and stir for one minute.
3. Add the potatoes, zucchini, kale and chard and stir until the leaves start to wilt, about 5 minutes.
4. Add enough broth or water to cover, the parmesan rind (if using) and the bay leaves. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and simmer, covered, for one hour. Add the tomato paste and the cannellini beans and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool completely to room temperature. Remove the parmesan rind and the bay leaves.
5. Take 2 or 3 ladles of soup and purée it with a food processor or a blender and return to the pot.
6. Remove the crust from the bread, then cut it in thin slices or tear it in chunks.
7. Take a deep oven proof dish (like a lasagna dish) and start layering bread and soup, starting with a layer of bread, then soup and alternate, finishing with a layer of bread. Store in the refrigerator until the next day.
Day 2 – Reheat the soup in the oven
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
1. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and put the dish in the oven. Cook, uncovered, until the bread is golden and the soup sizzles, about 40 minutes.
2. Take the soup out of the oven and stir well.
3. Serve in individual bowls and drizzle with more olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.
4. Take the rests and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Day 3 – Reheat the soup on the stove top
1. Take a pot large enough to fit the soup rests and coat the interior with olive oil. Heat over medium heat and when the oil is hot, add the soup.
2. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring once in a while and adding a bit of broth or water if too thick. Remember that, at this stage, the soup should be thick enough to eat with a fork.
3. Serve in individual bowls with olive oil and parmesan.