We've always got time for Ribollita...

This soup is like a hug in a bowl. It's a hug that's worth waiting for. With just a little forward thinking, you can create one of Tuscany's most precious family dishes. This is an Italian recipe you'll be reaching for again and again.

The long cooking time over a low heat is what makes its rustic flavours shine. In times gone by, the bitter cold of autumn and winter would keep housewives inside for long periods, so they would prepare this soup to last for several days. They would traditionally make the soup in large quantities on a Friday to be enjoyed over the weekend, re-heating the soup every time. This tradition is what gave the dish its name; it literally translates as ‘re-boiled’.

It's one of those dishes that always tastes better the day after. Ribollita is popular all over Tuscany, and in other parts of Italy, with numerous variations. Today’s Ribollita recipe contains cannellini beans, chard and cavolo nero. This is a recipe from Cesarina Emanuela, who lives in one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany, Siena.



400g dried cannellini beans
A few sage leaves
300g chard, chopped
2 handfuls of cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale), chopped
Half a cabbage
2 medium-sized potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate (or 5 peeled tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic
Finely chopped onion and celery
1 carrot, cut into rounds
7-8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Stale bread (rustic or homemade)


1. Soak the dried cannellini beans in a large bowl of water and leave to rest for 2 days.

2. After the beans have soaked, boil them in a saucepan of water over a medium heat with some sage leaves and a pinch of salt. When they are soft, you’ll need to separate your beans as so; set aside a ladleful of whole beans aside which will be added to the soup when it is served. Then, take half of the remaining beans, mash them, and add them back into the pan.

3. In a large saucepan, heat some olive oil and gently sweat the chopped onions, celery and garlic. When they are softened, add the carrots and leave them to cook a little.

4. Add the tomato to the saucepan and dilute with a ladleful of the cooking water from the beans. Add the diced potatoes and leave to simmer over a low heat for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the rest of the vegetables, with salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the bean mixture (including the cooking water).

6. Cook the soup over a low heat for about two and a half hours, then add the whole cannellini beans near the end of the cooking time.

7. While the soup is cooking, slice the bread thinly and lay out in an ovenproof dish, alternating layers of bread with layers of soup from the pan until the dish is full.

8. It's ideal to leave the bread and soup to soak until the following day.

9. When it’s time to cook, drizzle with olive oil, add some sliced onion on the top, and cook in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes...Your soup is ready to enjoy!

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Did you know...

Siena is the home of Ribollita, but it's also the home of one of Tuscany's largest food markets. It's a foodie paradise.

Have a look at some of our favourite food experiences in Siena below... It's the perfect way to discover authentic Tuscan cuisine.

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