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Ribollita (Tuscan bean and kale soup)

December 17, 2015

I liked this soup more than I expected. It’s got a good flavor and a little spiciness from the red pepper flakes. It’s a good thing to have around this week with all the holiday baking I’ve been doing – at least we’re eating something healthy! It took me years to find romano beans. Eventually I found them at a Mexican grocery store somewhere in a northwest Chicago suburb. When I run out of them, I’ll probably just substitute another kind of bean so I can make this again sooner. I never did find savoy cabbage, but green cabbage works fine. I used the whole bunch of kale and the whole (small) cabbage. This may be part of the reason my soup was so thick.


If you want to include the bread (which I recommend), you’ll need to do a little advance planning and make it at least a few days in advance, or even longer if it’s more convenient. And, since making this recipe seems to be all about planning ahead, I cooked the dried beans in a slow cooker the day before making this soup. This way, it didn’t take as long for the soup to cook and I put the extra cooked beans in the freezer to make this again later.

1/2 cup dried romano (or borlotti) beans – or another bean that you like

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped

2 small bay leaves

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

7 cups cabbage (green or savoy), cored and thinly sliced

1/2 bunch lacinato kale (also called Tuscan, black or dinosaur kale – or use green kale if you can’t find it), stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

14 oz. can diced tomatoes, regular or fire roasted

5 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups very stale no-knead bread, cut into cubes. (You could try using something else,  but this bread doesn’t dissolve into complete mush in this soup like other breads would. It’s not much work to make and you can do it way in advance – a week or more. I recommend cutting it into cubes before it gets really stale and is hard to cut.)

If using dried beans, rinse and drain the beans. Cover with cool water and soak for 8 hours.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt and the red pepper. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are partially translucent and just starting to brown at the edges (about 9 min). Add the cabbage and kale. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted (about 15 min). Drain the beans and add to the pot with the water and tomatoes (with juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are cooked and vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 hours if using dried beans, and a lot less if your beans are already cooked. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

Add the bread to the bowls of soup and let it sit a few minutes to soften.

(Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey)


From → Soups

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