Ribollita is a hearty vegetable soup made with cannellini beans, greens, and a variety of vegetables. Serve over crusty bread, and add a generous drop of pesto or a sprinkling of parmesan or drizzle olive oil to top off.
A hearty bowl of soup is the perfect meal to look forward to on a cold day. It is especially true at the beginning of winter and right after the Christmas break 😊. It is a favorite of the cook too – as it is a one pot meal.
This soup has mild sweet flavors so much so that you wouldn’t mind the aroma permeating through the house. This dish is vegetarian and despite the rich buttery feel of the soup it is surprisingly low on calories. No wonder we come back to this dish for a post holiday detox.
What is Ribollita
Ribollita is a popular Tuscan soup. The word Ribollita means boiled again. Essentially you make the soup first and let the flavors mellow for some time. Before serving heat it up with the bread, just until it boils. The bread absorbs the flavors but does not disintegrate completely.
This is a great way to use up day-old bread or use that extra chewy crusty bread. I often cut up the extra crusty bread and toast in the oven to make croutons. The croutons often end up in soups.
Why We Love This Hearty Vegetable Soup
This soup is vegetarian, and if you don’t top it with pesto or cheese is vegan as well. So if you are trying to include more plant based meals in your diet without adding a ton of processed food this is one meal to try.
- It is buttery (not from diary, but from the cannellini beans)
- It is light and low in fat
- Provides more than a full serving of vegetables
- No special tools needed
- Easy to make on a weekday (check out the IP and Slow cooker section)
- A great way to use up leftover veggies and bread
Flavors in Ribollita
There are many versions of this soup, all of them have beans and some variety of greens. As many My preference is this one without tomatoes, which happened accidentally. I love the combination of cannellini beans, fennel and kale in this and happened to taste before adding tomatoes. Holding off on tomatoes makes these flavors shine through.
Other than garlic, salt and pepper I do not add any herbs or spices. You really do not need anything else when using fresh vegetables.
Beans are a great source of protein and other nutrients. For anyone trying to eat less meat or on a vegetarian/vegan diet it is important ensure enough protein in their diet. The best part about beans is that it is the original plant based protein.
White beans like cannellini beans are usually used here. The beans turn soft and buttery when cooked. You can use canned beans or dried ones. Canned beans save time, but depending on the brand you may want to drain and rinse before adding the beans to the soup pot.
More Bean/Lentil Recipes
- Chole – Curried Garbanzo beans
- Black bean chili – Vegan black bean chili
- Hummus – Chickpea Spread
- Black lentils – Creamy black lentils in Pressure cooker/IP
- Parippu Vada – Mung Dal Fritters
Using Dry Beans
Dried cannellini beans do not take much time to cook and can be cooked without soaking. That said I prefer to soak all beans until they are plump and almost doubled in size. Drain out the soaking liquid, and cook the soaked beans in plenty of fresh water. This is the way it has been done across cultures and seems to make them easier to digest.
I usually cook beans separately as when I do it is for multiple dishes. Part of it might g into a soup while the rest might go into a dip or a salad.
There are a ton of vegetables in this soup along with ethe standard ones that one usually finds in soup – onions, carrots, celery. Kale, fennel, and zucchini here. Fennel is aromatic and sweet and goes great with the buttery beans. You could substitute kale with other greens. IF using tender greens do not cook them for long.
This combination of vegetables complements each other. No one flavor overpowers and you can taste each. For this reason, I prefer this soup without the tomatoes, though most cooks add them.
Other vegetables to use in this soup are – cabbage, French beans, potatoes, radish, Collard greens or Chard.
Crusty variety of bread like baguettes are the best to use here. That said I have served these with softer bread like everyday white/wheat bread. If you are serving it with softer bread heat the soup without the bread. Toast and tear the bread into large pieces and line the soup bowls with it. Pour hot soup on top. This will allow the bread to absorb the flavors and not break apart.
Making Ribollita in Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot
This is great to make in the instant pot too. Proceed as the recipe calls for until all the ingredients, except bread and any tender greens like spinach are added. Cook in the soup setting. When ready serve, bring it back to a boil after adding bread and any tender vegetables.
Slow cooker Version
If you have dried beans, the slow cooker is the best option for you. Soak the beans overnight and start the process in the morning. Proceed as in the recipe but do not add the bead and tender greens. Set at low for 12 hours or medium for 6 to 8 hours. Before serving add the bread and greens and bring back to boil.
This recipe tastes better the next day. Make the soup cool and refrigerate. The next day reheat it with bread.
How to serve
- I like to top each bowl with one or two tablespoons of pesto. The heat from the soup releases the fragrance of basil and garlic in the pesto.
- Serve a few more pieces of the toasted bread – in case you have more liquid to lap up 🙂
- Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on top. Again here the heat release more essential oils into the air.
- For a more rich soup mix in a couple of tablespoon of parmesan when you reheat and top each bowl with a few shavings as well. parmesan.
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Onions, Medium sized
- 2 Carrots
- 2 Stalks Celery
- 4-5 cloves Garlic
- 1 Medium Fennel Bulb trimmed and sliced
- 1 Large Zucchini sliced
- 6 C Vegetable Stock Note
- 2 C Tomatoes chopped (Optional, I prefer to leave this out)
- 3 C Cannelini Beans Cooked (Notes)
- 2 C Cubed Crusty Bread preferably toasted
- Salt / Pepper To taste
- Crushed red pepper To Taste
- Grated Parmesan
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- More Bread
Prep the Veggies
- Chop the onions, peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery sticks, slice the zucchini into ¼ inch thick pieces, clean and slice the celery root into thin slices. Roughly chop the kale after removing the ribs and stem.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onions and garlic. If planning to make the soup spicy add 1 to 2 tsp of crushed red pepper at this time and cook for 30 seconds. Add the carrots, celery, and fennel in batches stirring in between. Cook for a few minutes and add the sliced zucchini.
- Add the tomatoes (if using), and vegetable stock. Bring to a slow boil and add the cooked beans and kale. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Before serving bring the soup back to a boil and add the toasted bread. Keep the heat on low and let the bread soak for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve hot.
- Line the serving bowls with more crusty bread (optional) and ladle the soup on top. Top off with a tablespoon of Pesto / grated parmesan or simply a drizzle of olive oil.
- Any stock will work in this recipe, when stock is not available use water.
You can substitute other beans in the recipe.
- 1 cup dried beans will yield 3 C cooked beans. Use the extra bean liquid to bring more richness to the soup.
- 3 cups of cooked beans are roughly equal to 2 standard cans of cooked beans. Drain and rinse the beans or use the bean liquid depending on the brand.
- If using uncooked beans add the beans before adding other vegetables like zucchini or kale. Make sure that there is enough liquid to cover the beans by at least 2 inches. Bring to boil and cook on low for 30 minutes or until the beans are cooked thoroughly.
- Other vegetables to add – cabbage, radish, spinach, collard greens, potatoes
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.