Rustic Ribollita Soup to Warm Up Your Winter!
There’s truly nothing better than a cozy bowl of hearty soup on a cold winter day. Since our Minnesota winters are pretty frigid, I make a pot of soup, stew, or chili at least once a week. I love how comforting it feels to have something simmering on the stove as the snow falls!
This ribollita soup recipe is one of my go-tos, & I’m super excited to share it with you today. If you’re unfamiliar with ribollita, it’s essentially a hearty Tuscan soup made with plenty of veggies, white beans, & an aromatic tomato broth. What’s really special about ribollita, though, is that bread is simmered right in the soup, creating an especially hearty & satisfying meatless stew.
My take on ribollita is extra flavorful thanks to my favorite garlic & herb-infused tomato broth, which is seriously rich & bold thanks to a whole head of garlic, loads of fresh herbs, & a parmesan rind for extra savory flavor. (If you’ve been around PWWB for awhile, you may recognize this broth from this PWWB reader favorite!) I use plenty of veggies & beans – about twice as much as classic ribollita recipes – to make this meatless soup incredibly hearty & filling. And, while it’s not especially traditional, I also like to toast up some croutons as the soup simmers. Pile them on each bowl for the best roasty-toasty crunch, & finish with a drizzling of olive oil & a sprinkle of parmesan for good measure.
It’s the perfect winter meal – super simple & humble yet seriously satisfying & feel-good. If you’ve never tried ribollita before, you’re in for such a treat! (Plus, cooking a pot of ribollita is the perfect excuse to daydream about warm Tuscan sunshine during the chilly winter months…but maybe that’s just me!)
Ribollita Soup Recipe Highlights
You will love cozying up with a bowl of ribollita soup this winter because it’s…
- HEARTY. This is one filling meatless meal! Loads of veggies & white beans make each bowl satisfying enough to enjoy at lunch or dinner.
- BOLDLY FLAVORED. My ribollita recipe builds layers of flavor into the broth using whole peeled tomatoes, an entire head of garlic, fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme, & a parmesan rind. So, so flavorful!
- THE PERFECT WINTER MEAL. Ribollita is the type of meal that warms you up from the inside out – perfect on any chilly winter day. Total feel-good food!
Any winter day is better with a bowl of ribollita! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Ribollita Soup, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What is Ribollita?
Ribollita is a classic Tuscan bread stew. The Italian word ribollita translates to “re-boiled,” a nod to the fact that this soup was traditionally made in an effort to stretch leftovers like vegetables & stale bread out into a hearty, wholesome meal. Despite its relatively humble origins, ribollita has stood the test of time because it’s delicious in its own right – cozy, hearty, & satisfying goodness!
This ribollita recipe is classic, with a few twists to take it completely over the top:
- It’s packed with veggies. Especially when they’re meatless, I like my soups hearty & filling. This ribollita recipe uses nearly double the amount of veggies & white beans as traditional recipes.
- It has a mega-flavorful garlic & herb-infused broth. The broth is super bold & flavor-forward, thanks to a whole head of garlic, loads of fresh herbs, & a parmesan rind.
- Bread two ways! Traditional ribollita involves simmering bread directly into the soup, which brings stale bread back to life & thickens the soup. To add another layer of texture & flavor, I toast some of the bread into croutons for serving. They add crispy, crunchy texture & toasty flavor, without getting quite as soggy – so good!
Ribollita Key Ingredients
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Like many classic Italian recipes, you only need a few simple ingredients to make a warm pot of ribollita soup:
- Vegetables – I love loading my ribollita recipe with tons of extra veggies like carrots, celery, onion, & kale. There’s no rules here, though – feel free to use other extra veggies you have on hand or other leafy greens you prefer!
- Whole peeled tomatoes – A can of whole peeled tomatoes with all their juices creates a rich tomato broth for the ribollita. I like using whole tomatoes to create an extra hearty & rustic texture. Because the rest of the ingredients in this ribollita soup recipe are so simple, it’s a great opportunity to use high-quality San Marzano tomatoes, if you can find them.
- Cannellini beans – The main source of protein in this meatless recipe! You might also know this fairly common, oval-shaped white bean as a navy bean.
- White wine – To deglaze the pan & build added richness into the ribollita broth. I recommend using a dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
- Garlic – A whole head of garlic (yep, a whole head!) infuses so much flavor as the soup simmers. This is one of my favorite soup season tricks!
- Herbs – Fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, & thyme add so much richness to any homemade soup. You can often find these three packaged together at the grocery store as a ‘poultry blend’. Dried Italian seasoning & bay leaves add even more herbaceous flavor to this ribollita recipe.
- Bread – While Italian bread is traditional, tangy sourdough is my bread of choice for ribollita. You can use any other hearty bread of choice!
Soup Flavor Boosters
Over my years of winter soup-making, I’ve learned that there are 3 game-changing ingredients that instantly elevate & richen any homemade soup. I call them soup flavor boosters:
- Tossing a whole head of garlic into a pot of soup infuses a ton of flavor into the broth as it simmers! Simply slice a head of garlic in half crosswise, remove any excess papery peelings, & toss the whole darn thing into the pot. When the soup is done, carefully squeeze the cooked cloves out of the bulb & into the soup. Every once in a while you’ll get a jackpot bite with a perfectly tender clove of garlic – so good!
- Adding fresh herbs is the easiest way to create a more aromatic soup. Use cooking twine to tie sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme together, making it easier to remove them from the soup later on.
- A parmesan rind is another soup season secret weapon I love. This tough outer edge of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese infuses rich, savory flavor into any soup broth for extra depth of flavor. You can buy parmesan rinds at cheese shops or most grocery stores with a specialty cheese selection. I recommend getting a bunch & storing them in your freezer all soup season long!
How to Make Ribollita
Prepping a pot of ribollita soup is a seriously easy & satisfying way to spend a winter afternoon. Everything comes together in just 4 easy steps!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Cook the aromatics. Ribollita starts by cooking aromatic ingredients into a base layer of flavor, just like any other soup! Sauté classic soffritto veggies (carrots, celery, & onion) until slightly softened, then stir in dried Italian seasoning. Once everything is toasted & fragrant, deglaze the pan with white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Why? ⇢ As the aromatics cook, browned bits (i.e. fond) develop & create the foundation of flavor for the entire soup. The wine creates steam as it hits the hot pot, releasing these browned bits from the bottom of the soup & allowing you to incorporate all of their flavor into the ribollita.
Build the ribollita. Add a large can of whole peeled tomatoes to the pot with the cooked veggies, using a wooden spoon to gently break them into rough pieces, then add in vegetable stock, a garlic, bay leaves, a bundle of fresh herbs, & a parmesan rind into your pot with the cooked veggies. Let everything come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. A simmer is a signal that the flavors are starting to build – so sit back & let the magic happen!
Optional: Toast croutons. As the ribollita simmers to perfection, there’s just enough time to toast up some bread for serving. Simply tear sourdough bread into half-inch pieces, then toss with a little olive oil, salt, & ground black pepper. In about 10 minutes the bread cubes will come out of the oven perfectly golden brown for serving. Tip! ⇢ Take your croutons over the top by sprinkling freshly grated parmesan over top before popping them into the oven. The parmesan browns in the oven, adding beautiful deep flavor to the toasty croutons.
Finish the ribollita & serve! Stir kale, cannellini beans, & torn sourdough into the soup, letting it simmer for 5 more minutes until the kale is wilted & the beans are warmed through. The bread softens as it simmers, thickening the broth & giving the soup a hearty stew-like texture. Serving suggestions! ⇢ Portion the ribollita into soup bowls, topping each bowl with a handful of toasted croutons, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil & some freshly grated parmesan. Cozy, hearty goodness!
Ribollita Bread Tips
- The addition of bread is a defining trait of a ribollita. While Italian bread is traditional, I like to use sourdough bread – feel free to use your hearty bread of choice.
- The best time to add the bread to the ribollita is right at the end of simmering. This gives the bread enough time to soak into the soup without making it overly soggy. The goal here is soft, tender bites of bread throughout the soup.
- Homemade croutons add an extra element of crunchy texture & toasty flavor to classic ribollita. Toast them up as the ribollita simmers for a perfectly timed meal. For an extra special touch, coat the croutons with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- If you don’t like the texture of softened bread, simply skip it. The soup won’t be ribollita, but it will be a deliciously hearty & cozy Tuscan bean soup!
How do you eat ribollita?
The best way to enjoy ribollita is in a big bowl, under a cozy warm blanket by the fireplace. 😉 Seriously, though, eat it like you would any other soup or stew! I like to serve ribollita soup with a good handful of toasted croutons, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, & grated parmesan. Second helpings welcome!
Is ribollita vegan?
This ribollita recipe uses a rind of parmesan which contains both dairy & animal rennet. For a completely dairy-free, vegetarian & vegan ribollita, simply omit the parmesan rind – easy!
What is the difference between minestrone & ribollita?
Ribollita & minestrone are very similar soup recipes made with vegetables & an aromatic tomato broth. Many classic minestrone recipes are served with pasta, whereas ribollita is thickened with bread.
How do I store ribollita?
Ribollita stores really well – it’s one of those things that gets even better as it sits & the flavors meld together! You can store leftover ribollita soup in the fridge, but I recommend keeping any leftover toasted bread stored separately at room temperature. Freeze leftover ribollita as well & save it for a quick meal on a chilly, lazy day. Check the Recipe Notes, below for storage, freezing, & make-ahead instructions!
I can’t wait for you to try this Ribollita soup recipe! It’s the perfect cozy feel-good meal for winter & I think you’ll love it just as much as we do! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Love Feel-Good Soups & Stews? Same here! 🙌🏼 Be sure to make a pot of PWWB’s Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup, Damn Good Lentil Soup, or Lightened-Up Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs next. ♡ Happy soup season!Print
An extra-flavorful take on Ribollita, the iconic Tuscan soup! Hearty white beans & kale simmer with carrots, celery & onion in an aromatic tomato broth infused with fresh herbs, loads of garlic, & a parmesan rind for bold flavor. But ribollita’s key ingredient is bread, which simmers in the broth to create an extra-cozy & hearty soup. Finish each bowl with crispy toasted croutons & a generous sprinkling of parmesan for the most flavorful, cozy, feel-good meal on a cold winter day.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 medium carrots, peeled as desired & diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 (one) 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
- 32 ounces low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (one) 0.75-ounce pack “poultry blend” fresh herbs (or approx. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs fresh sage, & 10–12 sprigs fresh thyme), tied into a secure bundle with kitchen twine
- optional: parmesan rind (see Recipe Notes)
- 12 ounces sourdough or hearty bread of choice, cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces & divided
- 2 (two) 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded (approx. 2 cups packed)
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: extra virgin olive oil, shaved parmesan, ground black pepper
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Gather & prep all ingredients according to Ingredients List, above.
- Cook the aromatics: Add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (at least 5-qt capacity) over medium heat. Once hot, add in the carrot, celery, & onion. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened slightly, 6-8 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, stirring to combine. Toast until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the pot by slowly pouring in the white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Let the wine simmer, reducing by half.
- Build the ribollita: Add the whole peeled tomatoes, vegetable stock or broth, garlic, bay leaves, fresh herbs, & parmesan rind (if using) to the pot. Stir to combine, using a wooden spoon to roughly break up the whole tomatoes. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & additional ground black pepper as desired. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Partially cover the pot (place the lid on the pot such that it’s just partially covered, allowing some steam to escape as the soup cooks) & simmer for 20 minutes.
- Toast the bread: Meanwhile, as the soup simmers, toast the bread. Place 2/3 of the torn bread on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper. Toss to coat well, arranging the seasoned bread in an even layer across the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven & toast 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven & set aside for serving.
- Finish the ribollita: Once the ribollita has simmered, add in the reserved 1/3 of the torn bread, cannellini beans, & kale. Stir to combine well. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until the beans are warmed through & the kale is wilted. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as needed. Remove from the heat & discard the bay leaves, herb bundle & parmesan rind. You can also remove & discard the garlic – but I like to carefully squeeze the cooked cloves of garlic out of the bulb & into the soup…so good!
- Serve immediately: Portion the ribollita into soup bowls, topping with a good handful of the toasted bread cubes. Finish with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil & a sprinkling of grated parmesan. Enjoy!
- Parmesan rind: A parmesan rind is the tough outer edge of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, & it’s my absolute favorite soup season secret. Toss a parmesan rind into any cozy soup you make this cold-weather season; as it simmers, it infuses a rich, parmesan-y flavor into the broth. It’s an easy way to add an extra depth of flavor to soups, stews, & sauces, especially when the recipe comes together quickly. Parmesan rinds are usually sold at cheese shops or grocery stores with a more curated cheese selection (I buy mine at Whole Foods). Store them in your freezer all soup season long!
- Storage, Reheating, & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: This ribollita soup is incredibly make-ahead friendly – it stores so well & it’s one of those things that gets even better as it sits & its flavors meld together. Transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store any leftover toasted bread croutons in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Reheat the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through. Serve with toasted bread cubes.
- Freezer Instructions: This ribollita soup is also incredibly freezer-friendly. Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen tomato soup in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop.
- 20-Minute Meal Prep: All of the prep work involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop them all in advance, storing in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to prep your soup, all you have to do is get cooking – seriously so easy!:
- Dice 1 large yellow onion, 4 medium carrots (peel as desired), & 2 ribs celery. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)
- Destem & finely shred 1 bunch kale. Transfer to a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active prep)
- Dice or tear 12 ounces bread into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active prep)
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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