Tuscan bean soup (Ribollita)- How to make?

For this Tuscan bean soup, the beans need to soak for 12 hours and the soup prepared a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop before it is reheated, hence its name, “reboiled”. The soup really comes alive when topped with good quality olive oil to finish.

How to make Ribollita (tuscan bean soup)?

Serves 6–8

Ingredients Tuscan bean soup

For cooking the beans:

  • 225g dried cannellini beans, soaked for about 12 hours in cold water
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 small celery stalk, cut into pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Sprigs of fresh sage, rosemary, and parsley

For the soup

  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ½–1 tsp crushed dried chillies
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 2 carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 small leek, white and green parts, cut small
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
  • 250g cavolo nero, shredded
  • 200g savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

To serve:

  • 1 or 2 mild onions
  • 6–8 slices of country-style bread
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil

How to cook Tuscan bean soup

Step 1: Prepare and cook the ingredients

Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a large, heavy pot with all the ingredients for cooking the beans. Pour in enough cold water to cover the beans by about 5cm, and bring slowly to a boil. Cover the pan and cook very gently until they are tender – about 1½ hours.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the beans out of the liquid (leave the herbs and vegetables in the stock). Puree ¾ of the beans coarsely in a food processor, then turn them into a bowl. Leave the remaining beans whole and set them aside. Strain the cooking liquid into another bowl, discarding the herbs and vegetables.

Step 2: Add olive oil and the seasonings

Put the olive oil into the pot in which the beans were cooked. Add the onion and chilies, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and fry for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and cook for 2–3 minutes, then mix in the bean puree. Stir for a couple of minutes to let it take up all the flavors, then add all the other vegetables, plus the garlic and thyme.

Measure the bean cooking liquid and add enough water to make it up to about 1.5 liters. Add this to the pot with salt, and bring to a boil, then cook over the lowest possible heat for about 2 hours. Add in some pepper and check for seasoning. Remove from the heat and leave overnight.

Step 3: Heat and prepare the rest

The next day, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Mix the whole beans into the soup. Slice the onions very finely and arrange them in a thin layer over the surface of the soup. Put the pot in the oven and cook until the onion is tender; this will take about 1 hour.

Rub the bread with the halved garlic cloves, then toast under the grill. Put the bread into individual soup bowls and ladle the soup over them. Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil over each bowl and serve.

More information

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