Ribollita – A Delicious, Hearty and Satisfying Vegan Tuscan Soup
Yes, spring has most definitely sprung. It’s been a long time coming. Soups may not be on the top of everyone’s list of things to eat as they bathe in the sunshine today, but the night’s are still chilly and a good bowl of soup is satisfying at almost any time of the year. Ribollita is a hearty vegan Tuscan soup made from cannellini beans, stale bread and kale. It may not sound that appetising, but it’s delicious.
Ribollita is classic Italian peasant food. The name means reboiled, so traditionally it would have been a dish of leftovers and whatever was around made into an almost stew-like soup. Think bubble & squeak but with no frying. I very much doubt there was any conscious decision to be vegan, but olive oil, beans, veg and bread would have been all that many could get their hands on. No need for a blender. It’s so easy to make, cheap and tasty, it’s become a regular supper in a bowl for us.
The key to simple dishes, like ribollita, are the ingredients and here a good quality olive oil is needed. It really makes a difference. I used Suma’s organic extra virgin olive oil from Italy which is deep green and fragrant. Kale and leeks are still being harvested here in the UK, so this is still a seasonal dish. Because of this, I used leeks rather than onions. Use whatever vegetables you have to hand, but do include some sort of kale or cabbage if you can. Spinach works OK, but it doesn’t have the same hearty chewiness about it and the resultant ribollita feels slightly lacking.
It’s probably better to use denser rustic bread or sourdough for this dish as it will give a fuller flavour and help to thicken things up. Rye bread is our normal bread of choice and this is what went into the soup. I happened to have an open bottle of white wine in the fridge, so added a glug – just because. Wine is not an authentic ingredient for ribollita, so don’t worry about opening a bottle specially.
I used my Optimum Pressure Cooker to cook my soaked beans. 500g of dried beans is the approximate equivalent to four 400g tins once cooked. The whole lot went in to the pan; once cooked I freeze them in tin size portions for when needed. It’s best to crush some of the beans for this recipe, it helps to give a good texture and makes a nice thick soup.
It’s a slow process, but bit by bit I’m getting a few edibles into our new garden. I was excited to be able to scatter a little of our very own parsley over the top of the ribollita just before serving. There are few things more satisfying than eating your own homegrown produce – however small.
As well as the beans, olive oil, fennel seeds and bouillon from Suma Wholefoods that I needed for this recipe, I also stocked up on pine nuts for pesto during the short wild garlic season. Wild garlic pesto is one of my favourite things and I look forward to spring so I can start foraging. This year was a bit tricky. I knew exactly where to go for clean wild garlic back in Cornwall, but in my new New Forest home, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find any. Luckily, CT came across a large patch in the woods near where he works, so my fears of not getting any this year were allayed.
Wild garlic pesto can be used for so many things, not just pasta. To enhance soups and stews just add a blob when serving. As good as it is, even this ribollita benefits. It works well in a spring risotto, makes the best cheese scones ever and is fantastic in these asparagus tarts. My wild garlic pesto isn’t vegan, but it easily could be if needed.
Suma Organic Low Salt Bouillon
I’ve never been terribly impressed with stock cubes and tend not to use them. I tend to add miso or tamari instead, both of which are firm favourites. However, since I tried Suma’s organic low salt bouillon a couple of months ago, I’ve been using it quite a lot. I find just a little adds extra depth and flavour, without being at all obvious. And because it’s lower in salt than most, I’m happy to use it to enhance flavours rather than overwhelm them. I’ve been using it in all sorts of dishes, including this ribollita.
Ribollita – The Recipe
- 125 g dried cannellini beans or drain and rinse a 400g tin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek - finely sliced or 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks - diced
- 2 carrots - diced
- 2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
- 8 small tomatoes - halved
- 50 ml white wine (optional)
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 thyme sprig
- small red chilli - deseeded and finely chopped or ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 500 ml water
- 1 tsp bouillon
- 2 slices rustic bread I used rye sourdough
- 200 g cavolo nero or other kale or use spring cabbage - shredded
- 2 sprigs parsley - chopped
- 1 tsp wild garlic pesto (optional)
Cover the beans in plenty of cold water and soak them overnight. Rinse well, cover with clean water, bring to the boil with one of the bay leaves, then simmer with a lid on until soft. This usually takes about an hour. Alternatively cook them in a pressure cooker or slow cooker as per instructions.
- In a large pan, fry the leeks, celery, carrots and garlic in 1 tbsp of the olive oil over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.
Add the tomatoes, wine (if including), remaining bay leaf, herbs, spices and bouillon powder and cook with the lid on for a further 5 minutes.
Roughly crush half of the beans and add them along with the bread and water. Simmer with the lid on for a further 5 minutes.
- Finally add the cavolo nero and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.
Serve the ribollita with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil, a scattering of parsley and the wild garlic pesto, if using.
Serves 2 as a hearty main, or 4 as a lighter lunch.
Can cook a larger quantity of beans and freeze them in tin size portions for when needed.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.
This recipe for ribollita is my thirteenth for the Suma Blogger’s Network.
I’m also sharing it with Easy Peasy Foodie for #CookBlogShare
Other chunky soups you might like
- Asian kale, noodle & coconut broth via Foodie Quine
- Fridge lentil soup via Tinned Tomatoes
- Mushroom soup with brown rice via Sage & Simple
- Scotch broth via Farmersgirl Kitchen
- Smoky Mexican bean soup with spelt soda bread via Tin and Thyme
- Summer green soup with parsley & almond pesto via Tin and Thyme
- Vegetarian borscht via Chez Maxima
Ribollita. PIN IT.
Suma Wholefoods provided some of the ingredients for this recipe. I was not expected to write a positive review and all opinions are, as always, my own. The post contains affiliate links. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. Thanks to my readers for supporting the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.