A hearty combination of vegetables and beans makes up a satisfying meatless Tuscan ribollita, served with a toasted crouton and browned onions.
The most popular rustic dishes of Tuscany all seem to be of humble peasant origins, and this soup is no exception. With a name that literally translates as “reboiled,” ribollita is a simple mélange of white beans, chopped vegetables and greens served with a toasted crouton. Tradition traces its origin to the impoverished servants who scraped up the stale bread and leftover scraps from their lords’ feasts to boil them again for their own meals.
The particular mix of vegetables is very accommodating; almost anything mild and common will do, from tuberous roots to local and seasonal leafy greens with any choice of soft, creamy beans. Even a reliable minestrone can be adapted as there is no set recipe for either dish. Seasoning is also kept very basic, just a touch of rosemary and thyme with a toasted finish in the high heat of the oven.
Serving ribollita with toast is what sets this soup apart from others, as the bread soaks up the broth for almost a savory cobbler consistency after a while. Slices of red onion and a dusting of Parmesan are used to top the toast with a few minutes to brown under a broiler for another layer of flavor and texture.
Planning ahead for leftovers, the toasted bread with onions and cheese can be prepared separately and added at serving after the soup has been rewarmed. This will keep its crispy texture, although enjoying the soft, broth-soaked loaf as originally placed may be a matter of preference.
This dish is a surprisingly satisfying vegetarian bowl that works as a complete meal. Enjoy it before the toast loses its crunch.
1 white onion
1 rib of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of kale
½ red onion
15-oz can of cannellini beans
14.5-oz can of tomatoes (diced)
4 c vegetable broth
½ t rosemary
½ t thyme
4 thick slices of bread
1 Toast the bread until lightly browned and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion.
2 Preheat the oven to 450°F.
3 Chop the onion, carrot and celery, and mince the garlic. Sauté in oil until soft, about 5 min. Season to taste.
4 Drain and rinse the beans, then add them along with tomatoes and their juice, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 min.
5 Remove the ribs from the kale and tear into pieces by hand. Add to the soup off the heat, and stir to combine.
6 Place the toast on the top of the soup and drizzle with olive oil. Scatter red onion slices over the top, then Parmesan. Put in oven, uncovered, for 10 min for the top to brown.