Ribollita (Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup)

Ribbolita is a traditional Tuscan dish, a celebration of beans, seasonal vegetables, and the first press of extra virgin olive oil. The addition of bread turns a light soup into a satisfying dish that can be served as a main course. Add another layer of flavor by grating some aged Parmeggiano Reggiano over the top before service or at the table.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberry beans (*see note)                                  
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
  • 1 celery stalks, chunked
  • 2 carrots, medium, peeled, chunked
  • 1 onion, peeled, chunked
  • 1 leek, white part only
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 savoy cabbage, cored and cut into chiffonade
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into chiffonade
  • 5 cups water
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 Country bread loaf, day-old,  crust removed

Number of Servings : 8

Serving Size: 2 cups

Ribbolita is a traditional Tuscan dish, a celebration of beans, seasonal vegetables, and the first press of extra virgin olive oil. The addition of bread turns a light soup into a satisfying dish that can be served as a main course. Add another layer of flavor by grating some aged Parmeggiano Reggiano over the top before service or at the table.

Directions

  1. Cover the beans with water and soak them overnight. Cook the beans with the bay leaves and 2 of the garlic cloves until they are soft, about 1 hour. Strain them, reserving 1 cup of the liquid to add to the soup.
  2. In a food processor, shred the remaining 2 cloves of garlic with the celery, carrot, onion, and leek until very fine; still with tiny pieces of the vegetables, not a purée.
  3. Sauté the vegetables in ¼ cup of olive oil on medium-low heat, about 10 minutes, or until it is fragrant and slightly colored.
  4. Add the cooked beans and the 1 cup of cooking water, cabbage, chard, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Crumble the stale bread into small chunks and place a handful of the bread in each bowl. Ladle the soup over it and let it sit for a few minutes for the bread to soften and the broth to be absorbed. Finish each bowl with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

*Notes: In place of cranberry beans, you may use cannellini beans, navy beans, or Great Northern beans.

Recipe developed by The Culinary Institute of America as an industry service to the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.