Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew made with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread. One of my favorites.


Ribollita is a thick Tuscan stew - dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, thickened with day-old bread. It is hearty, filling, infinitely nourishing, and flat-out, the sort of food I crave. The amount of kale you collapse into each pot is impressive, and you'll be patting yourself on the back before, during, and after you eat. Here are the details - it's a soup I make constantly this time of year.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread
I should mention, with ribollita, it's one of those things where there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks. I normally use whole canned tomatoes this time of year - torn up. But had crushed tomatoes on hand, and they worked out nicely. You can use canned beans, beans cooked from dried, or cooked beans you've frozen and thawed. As far as guidelines go? Your ribollita should be thick - eventually. A sloppy sounding, bread stew. Use day old bread, preferably a rustic loaf cut (or torn) into big chunks. The bread absorbs the broth and simmers into beautifully plump zones of pillowy dumplings.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Ribollita Shortcuts

This isn't a difficult soup to cook, although it does require some chopping. If you're looking for a few ways to shave off some prep time. Use canned beans, and buy pre-washed & chopped kale. Also keep in mind, this recipe results in a large pot of soup. Enough for a couple days of leftovers, or more, depending on the size of your family.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Ribollita Adaptations

There are a bunch! In addition to the tweaks I mentioned up above, I suspect a number of you will want to know how to make it GF. Yes, you can absolutely make it without the bread. it's not the same stew, and not really ribollita, but it is still wonderful. Bump up the amount of beans you use (both the whole & mashed). I've also taken to substituting a cup of the white beans with 1 cup of uncooked French lentils (added with the tomatoes). Once the lentils are fully cooked proceed with the addition of the kale, beans, etc.


I like to add a bit of lemon zest to each bowl for a bit of brightness, and because I can't help myself. And I also like the saltiness of a few olives alongside the kale, so that's a little bonus as well. I'll also drizzle a little thinned out pesto on top if I have it on hand, or, an herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, and marjoram together. This bowl was topped with a shallot and chiles oil.
Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

Freezer-friendly Ribollita

This is an excellent freezer friendly stew. I like to make an extra-large pot of it, let it cool, and transfer it to freezer-safe containers. It's good for a month or so frozen. If I know it's a pot primarily bound for the freezer, I sometimes hold off on adding the bread. I'll add it when I reheat later. But really, you can do it either way.

I hope you love this, and I hope you make it. It has all the good stuff in one pot. It's what I like to make when I feel like I need a bit of a re-boot.

This is the place if you're looking for more soup recipes, and I included this recipe in my list of best bean recipes, so be sure to check it out if you're looking for more bean-centric inspiration. Enjoy! -h

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4.16 from 77 votes

As far as choosing beans, I usually opt for cannellini. On the bread front, I often use a loaf of day-old whole wheat sourdough, but have at times opted for ciabatta. Canned beans can be used here, the equivalent is roughly two or three 15-ounce cans. As far as the kale goes, look for cavolo nero - a craggy evergreen-hued kale that might also be labeled lacinato or Tuscan kale. The ribollita is pictured here drizzled with a simple herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, parsley, and marjoram together.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 14- ounce / 400 ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound / 16 ounces / 450g cavolo nero (lacinato kale, Tuscan kale), stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
  • 4 cups / 22 oz / 620g cooked white beans
  • 1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225g crustless loaf of bread
  • 1 1/2 + teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • lots of well-chopped oily black olives
  1. In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the cavolo nero, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups / 2 liters water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water - until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 minutes or so. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.
  3. Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or "ribollita" meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.

Makes a large pot of soup - enough for 10 servings.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
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I have a bag of dried bread cubes left over from the holidays that keep staring at me reproachfully. I imagine those would work? Maybe need more liquid? HS: Hi Theano, sure, give them a go. You can always adjust the amount of liquid.


Great idea with the olives! I love cavolo nero and this is a tasty way to cook with it - thanks!


Yet another fabulous sounding soup, and with freezer leftovers, even better! As an alternative to using canned tomatoes in soup, I've been trying something new lately. Back in September, "The Tomato Lady" at my favorite farmer's market suggested freezing whole tomatoes in freezer bags. I liked the idea of having access to her seasonal goodies in February, so I went for it. Now, any mid-winter soup that calls for a can of tomatoes, I just haul 3 whole frozen tomatoes, run them under the faucet to remove the skins, let them thaw in a bowl and crush them into the soup. It makes for the freshest tasting soups that even my non-tomato loving husband raves can appreciate. I highly recommend trying it if you have the space in your freezer! HS: Love this idea - thanks for sharing Rita.


Maybe there's an upside to not owning a freezer after all: I can't throw things in and forget about them!


This sounds amazing--can't wait to try it!


Ooh this looks delicious! And I'm pretty sure we have enough in my house to blunder our way into a Riboletta sometime soon! Tegan


Looks Fabulous! Since I'm trying to avoid gluten now, would you recommend rice or quinoa or some other grain instead of the bread? About how much? HS: Sure! You should just experiment starting with a cup or two of cooked brown rice. Or cooked pearled barley or farro might be a nice alternative - the pearled versions might add a bit of creaminess to the broth.


Read through the cookbook Salt to Taste this weekend. It contains a Ribolitta recipe that sounds like it would serve an army. One great tip to get the kale into tiny bits. Freeze it first, then crumble it while frozen. Can't wait to try your more reasonable-sized recipe. HS: Great tip, from a beautiful book I might add - I'll have to try that next time.

Olive Hofstader

This seems worthy of making just to say its name repeatedly. Of course, I'll lower my register, slow my delivery and attempt my best faux Italian accent.

tom | tall clover farm

Thanks for this week's soup idea!. I'm curious about your frozen beans. Do you always cook them first? I buy fresh shell beans when in season, shell them, and then freeze them uncooked.. When I pull them out in the winter, it's like having fresh beans - they only take 20 minutes or so to cook, more if you throw them into the pot to cook while they're still frozen. HS: I always cook dried beans before freezing them, but fresh shell beans I don't cook before freezing. And I always kick myself for not buying more fresh shell beans when I see them in the summer. You're right, they're great to have on hand later in the year.

Local Cook

Wow, what a great haul in your freezer. Mine has almonds, a banana, some butter, and a lot of dog food. Sigh.


Ribollita is wonderful, and your recipe is almost exactly like mine. My main difference is that I have always added a good dollop of basil pesto. I may have to try it with olives instead next time because that sounds so good! This soup is also great with the addition of italian sausage for meat-loving husbands, and topped with parmesan cheese!


Warm soup on a cold winter day. What's better?

Dave -nibbleanibble

This is exactly the type of soup I've been craving (without even knowing that ribollita existed!).

The Ordinary Vegetarian

Thanks for this one Heidi. You always provide me unfamiliar recipe. As an Asian I find your recipe very very interesting.... Keep it up! :-)

The Artist Chef (Joanie)

Yum. :) Soup season is definitely here - can't wait to give it a go! I just whipped up a batch of carrot soup. :)


I haven't had ribollita since I studied abroad in Florence - this brings back such delicious memories! Your freezer sounds totally like my freezer. I have like 5 million egg whites in there....in addition to way too many other scraps that need to be used up!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home

This soup looks delicious! Now I know what to do with all the beans I have!

Estela @ Weekly Bite

I think I need to make this - there was also a recipe for it in the Chronicle today, so that must be a sign that I should make this! I also saw that kind of Kale at the store today and wondered about it.

Jennifer Plantenberg

ohh this is exactly what I've been craving all weekend, I'm making it tomorrow! it looks delicious. for the bread, do you just cut the crusts off before using it? does it still work if you leave the crusts on the bread (I'd hate to waste them!)


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