This classic Italian vegetable stew is hearty and heathy—loaded with beans, leafy greens and a comforting layer of artisan bread at the bottom of the bowl. You can vary the ingredients depending on what you find in the market, or tucked into the crisper drawer at home. Try a bit of zucchini or cauliflower. Turnips or parsnips would be perfect, too. A Parmesan cheese rind (an inch or two) tossed into the broth, as the soup simmers, is an old Italian trick that adds wonderful flavor. But no worries if you don’t have one, just add a bit more salt and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan on each serving.
Ribollita is more of a stew than a soup, if you prefer something more brothy, simply add a bit more stock (or water combined with a tablespoon or two of tomato paste) to the mix—up to two cups.
Serves 6 to 8
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onion (one large onion)
- 1 cup cubed carrots
- 3/4 cup cubed fennel or celery
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large pinch red pepper flakes
- 28 ounce can or box crushed tomatoes with juice
- 2 quarts vegetable stock or water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 medium yukon gold or red-skinned potato
- 2 cans white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, collards or other sturdy green leaves, center stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 to 3/4 of a baguette or similar amount of crusty bread (stale is fine), cut into large cubes
- shaved Parmesan for serving
- Warm 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, fennel/celery, garlic and red pepper. Cook until onions begin to color. Stir frequently. Add tomatoes, stock/water, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, potato and white beans to the pot. Stir in one teaspoon of salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer soup for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour (longer offers more flavor).
- Add chopped greens and stir to distribute throughout the soup. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until leaves are just tender. Taste soup and add more salt as needed.
- To serve, place 8 or so bread cubes into a bowl. Ladle soup over the top and garnish with plenty of Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.