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Ribollita - Tuscan Soup


Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 stick celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée
  • 400g cavolo nero, shredded (or any type of dark leafy cabbage or kale)
  • 1 tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 180g rustic bread cut into cubes


  1. Put two tablespoons of the olive oil into a saucepan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, sprig of thyme and bay leaf. Place a lid on the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent them sticking. Cook for 10-15 minutes until they have softened and the onion is just beginning to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water and then remove their skins and chop them finely. When the vegetable are ready add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes and then add the tomato purée and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add the stock and cabbage, stir, replace the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  4. Add the beans, stir and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the bread, stir well and cook for a further 10 minutes until the bread is fully absorbed into the mixture. The soup should be thick enough to eat with a fork.
  6. Remove the thyme and bay leaf and then stir in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. Serve just on its own in heated bowls.


Ribollita is a famous peasant dish from Tuscany and the name literally means 'reboiled'. It was originally a dish eaten by poor country people in the winter when they would reboil left over vegetables and add stale bread to the mix. If there was any left over then more vegetables and bread would be added the next day and it would be heated up again. As it was mainly eaten in the winter months cabbage was the most readily available vegetable.
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