Ribollita – Tuscan Soup for the Soul

Making Ribollita in Tuscany:

I’m sure I heard someone saying that this wonderful dish was the Italian equivalent of Jewish Chicken Soup.  Something that is so much a part of the culture and heritage of Tuscany that no one needs a recipe and everyone has their own way of making it.

serving the ribolitta

Well, on my recent trip to Tuscany we were lucky enough to have a cookery lesson from Anna Bini, a lovely Italian chef with three restaurants in Paris(!).  It was her wonderful Villa that Tuscany Now had offered us for this trip – and she came back to stay next door and share a few secrets of cooking in Tuscany with us.  One small challenge – much of the food in the area is dominated by meat and my companion, The Hedonist, doesn’t eat meat at all.   So when Anna prepared the Ribollita she explained that she’d left out the ham bone from the bean stock.  And, nothing was measured, so my recipe is very much my estimate of what was used.

Ribollita – Anna Binni Style

Serves 6
Prep time 40 hours
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 41 hours
Meal type Lunch, Soup
Misc Serve Hot
Region Italian
By author Anna Binni

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Courgettes
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 sticks Celery
  • 6 thin slices Stale Bread

Mirepoix

  • 1-2 stick Celery
  • 1-2 Carrot
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 glass White Wine
  • 200g Cavolo Nero
  • 25ml Olive Oil

Stock

  • 300g Dried Canelli Beans (Soaked overnight in water)
  • 8 Sage Leaves
  • 3-4 Garlic
  • 25 ml Olive oil

Stock (Optional)

  • 1 Ham hock or bone (optional)

Directions

Step 1 removing beans from stock
Make the base for the soup by stewing the white beans in water with sage, olive oil and the ham bone for 30-40 minutes till the beans are soft. Remove the bone and 3-4 spoonfuls of beans, then liquidise the mixture to make a white thick 'stock'. It should be about the consistency of single cream at this stage
Step 2 mirepoix of vegetables
Make the mirepoix by gently stewing finely diced onion, celery and carrot in olive oil. Once the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelise, add the white wine and reduce right down
Step 3 ribollita ready to cook
Add the stock to to the mirepoix, then add in the cavola nero and remaining carrot, celery and potato. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Step 4 ribolitta cooked
Cook this mixture in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes or a large stovetop casserole for twice that time. 5 minutes before the soup is cooked, add the remaining cannelli beans
Step 5 lining the bowl with bread
Line an oven proof serving bowl with two layers of the thinly sliced bread and pour all the soup mixture on top. Allow the mixture to rest., ideally for a few hours or overnight, then reheat and serve.

Note

I've estimated quantities for this dish - Anna explained that most cookery of this sort is passed down through families.

Anna also made a few other dishes for us including swordfish with fennel and a chestnut cake called Castanaccio. .  The swordfish and fennel dish was delicious and one I will attempt to recreate at some point.   And we all sat down to a wonderful Tuscan feast, finishing off with some Grappa!

grappa

Many thanks to Anna for our cookery lesson and to  TuscanyNow, providers of villas in Tuscany for organising our trip to Il Monte.

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Comments

  1. looks heavenly!

  2. Good to know it can easily be adapted for us vegetarians:-)

  3. Looks delicious! I’m with Jess though and would go with the vegetarian.

  4. That is lovely and really a nice way of cooking … just go for it.

  5. Elizabeth Westuba says:

    OMG! Five close girlfriends and I stayed at Il Monte for 5 days a few years ago. I got on this site to look for a Tuscany soup recipe to serve for the holidays. What a treat to go back in time! I was looking at the pictures and thought, it can’t be… BUT IT WAS! We had the most wonderful time! Anna was a joy to meet.
    Thank you so much for sharing. The trip we took was one of a life time! What a wonderful surprise!
    Merry Christmas and thanks for making mine very special!
    Betsey Westuba, Wesley Chapel, FL

  6. You are so lucky Fiona, that sounds amazing and lovely soup too!

  7. Helen Clancy says:

    hmm looks yummy

  8. Belinda Matthews says:

    looks really tasty but takes ages

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