Classic Ribollita is a comforting soup made with vegetables and beans that is thickened with stale bread. It's Tuscan in origin, and packed with Mediterranean herbs and kidney beans. It's a great way to use up stale bread, or you can swap in pasta for a minestrone soup instead.
The best way to make cozy bowl of soup even better is to serve it with bread, am I right? But what if we add bread to the actual soup pot and stir it into the soup broth?! The resulting soup is thickened with bread and has the loveliest texture.
Ribollita is an example of such soup. It's essentially a vegetable soup with bread cubes stirred into the broth. It's a great way to use up stale or leftover bread. The bread melts into the soup and makes every bite creamier and richer.
My version of Ribollita has kidney beans, because all the best soup recipes contain beans. Check out all of my luscious bean soup recipes here.
If you lack bread, try using pasta in its place here. My ribollita soup base is identical to minestrone, so if you use bread, it's ribollita; if you use small pasta, it's minestrone. I'm sure you can tell that I'm not Italian, and I welcome any corrections to my assumptions that minestrone and ribollita are both made from the same basic vegetable soup base.
If you love Italian soups, don't miss my White Bean Soup with potatoes.
How to Make Ribollita Soup
This is a one-pot recipe, and everything comes together so quickly after chopping all of the vegetables. It's a great recipe to practice 'mise en place,' or chopping and pre-measuring everything before beginning to cook.
After sautéing onions, celery, carrots and zucchini and garlic in olive oil, we use build the broth of the soup with vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and lots of dried herbs. However, I really recommend one sprig of fresh rosemary to make this soup come alive.
The finishing touches on the soup are bread cubes, baby kale, and Parmesan cheese. All classic Tuscan ingredients that will make any bowl of soup delicious! I also recommend a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few extra bread cubes on top before serving.
- Olive Oil. A regular cooking (non extra virgin) olive oil for sautéing the vegetables, and a fancier 'finishing' extra virgin olive oil for serving.
- Onion. One onion, small-diced; yellow or white onion both work.
- Celery. Thinly sliced as an important flavor component in the broth.
- Carrots. Small-diced for sweetness.
- Garlic. Two cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- Zucchini. Mild zucchini is halved and sliced. You need one medium zucchini.
- Vegetable Broth. You need 5-6 cups of vegetable broth. Use your favorite one here, or homemade is great here because the flavor really shines. You can use a low sodium broth and adjust salt to your taste after cooking.
- Crushed Tomatoes. The big 28-ounce can is what we need here.
- Kidney Beans. One can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed. It can be light or dark red kidneys. You can substitute white cannellini beans.
- Spices: We need dried oregano, dried parsley, dried basil, and dried thyme leaves (not ground thyme). But, we need one 6" sprig of FRESH rosemary. Just trust me on this.
- Stale Bread. This can be 1 cup of bread cubes, or just torn pieces of bread. If your bread isn't stale, toast it lightly before adding to the soup.
- Baby Kale.
- Parmesan Cheese. Parmesan is traditional in this Tuscan soup. Plus, it provides creaminess and salt to the recipe, but if you want, you use just use an extra pinch of salt and nutritional yeast to mimic it and keep it vegan.
- Gather all of the ingredients, and pre-chop the vegetables to make things go quickly.
2. In a large Dutch oven pot or other soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Onions, celery and carrots are also called 'mirepoix' in French, and it is the base of many delicious soups.
3. Add the minced garlic and sliced zucchini to the pot, and cook for 30 seconds, just to lightly cook the garlic.
4. Next, add the liquid ingredients: the vegetable broth (start with 5 ½ cups), the can of crushed tomatoes, and the drained and rinsed kidney beans.
5. Give everything a stir, and then it's time to add all of the herbs! Add the salt, pepper, and all of the dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil and thyme). Finally, submerge the sprig of fresh rosemary sprig in the pot.
6. Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. This is a very quick-cooking soup--once it simmers, you're good! Also, a short cooking time keeps the zucchini from falling apart.
7. Turn off the heat, and stir in the baby kale and stale bread cubes. Let the kale wilt and the bread soak up some of the broth in the soup for about 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a few extra bread cubes.
How to make Super Thick Ribollita
Some ribollita recipes say the soup is done when a wooden spoon stands up on its own in the pot. This is great, if a super thick soup is your preference! To achieve this, double the amount of bread added to the pot, and simmer until it thickens, an extra 5-10 minutes.
I like a bit of tomato broth, so this ribolitta recipe calls for 1 cup of stale bread cubes. Another thin Italian soup we love is Pasta Fazool.
Ribollita means 'reboiled' in Italian, which refers to the fact that this soup makes use of leftovers, like stale bread. It's very humble in origin and was often cheap peasant food meant to use up food scraps and be filling.
Here at Bean Recipes, we happen to think any soup full of vegetables and beans is good for you, because it's packed with protein, fiber and good for your nutrients from vegetables. Check the recipe for full nutrition information.
If you're new here, it's a Tuscan vegetable soup with a tomato broth that is thickened by adding stale bread cubes to the pot. This is an easy, delicious recipe for ribollita.
How to Store:
This soup keeps in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. It will thicken as it sits, so add splashes of vegetable broth as it reheats, if you prefer.
Ribollita is freezer-friendly. As soon as it cools, scoop it into single-serve portion containers and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, defrost in the fridge overnight, warm it on the stove and add a splash of vegetable broth to bring it together.
Tuscan vegetable soup with stale bread. Can be made vegan if Parmesan is omitted.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium-large zucchini, halved and sliced
- 5 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves (not ground thyme)
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (about 6-8” long)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup stale bread cubes (cut ciabatta bread rolls into 1-inch chunks and allow to go stale on counter overnight)
- 2 cups loosely packed baby kale
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Gather all ingredients, and pre-chop vegetables so the recipe goes quickly.
- In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrots. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally (about 8-10 minutes).
- Add the minced garlic and sliced zucchini, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans. Stir to combine.
- Add the herbs, salt and pepper, and then bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Turn off the heat, and stir in the stale bread cubes and baby kale.
- Let the soup sit for 5-10 minutes in the pot to thicken up, and then serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Olive Oil: Cooking olive oil for sautéing the vegetables, and also a fancier extra virgin olive oil for serving.
Onion: Either yellow or white onion is fine.
Vegetable Broth: Store-bought low sodium or homemade. Adjust salt to taste after cooking.
Kidney Beans: Always drain and rinse your kidney beans. You can also substitute white cannellini beans.
Spices: We need dried spices: oregano, dried parsley, dried basil, and thyme leaves (not ground thyme). Please use a FRESH rosemary sprig.
Stale Bread: If your bread isn't stale, toast it lightly before adding to the soup.
Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan adds creaminess and salt to the recipe, but iyou can use an extra pinch of salt and nutritional yeast to mimic it and keep it vegan.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 1201mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 10g
If you like having the broth and the bread, put a slice of stale hearty bread or a heel in the bottom of each soup bowl and ladle the soup over the bread. Once you eat the soup, the bread is soft and can be cut with a spoon. It sops up all the goodies left on the bottom. A good way stretch leftover soup for Another meal. My Mother used to do this with many of her soups and stews, to stretch them and make them more filling.
Getting ready to make my third batch of this soup! It’s absolutely delicious! Family and friends that I’ve shared it with love it as well! It’s now my go to soup! I do add a bit of my own variations each time I cook it by adding different kinds of beans. Superb recipe!