Ribollita, Tuscan Bread Soup

| September 4, 2013

ribolettaTuscan Ribollita is a dense bread soup that originated in Florence, Italy during the middle ages. After medieval banquets, the leftover bread was given to servants, who combined it with whatever vegetables, herbs or beans that were available into a delicious soup and thus Ribollita found its origins. 

Many bread-based dishes were created during this time including the still popular panzanella (bread salad), since bread was readily available and was also the mainstay of a wealthy man’s table.

Ribollita is still popular in Florence and we have created our own more substantial version by adding chicken sausage. It remains the same delicious, satisfying dish that has been an Italian staple for centuries. Add crusty bread and a green salad and you have a hearty, comforting dinner.

Tuscan Ribollita with Sausage

Yields 8 Hearty Servings


  • ½ lb. dried cannellini beans
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced bacon
  • 2 chopped sweet onions
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 stalks chopped celery
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped Savoy cabbage
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped Swiss Chard with stalks removed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable
  • 4 cups  crustless sourdough bread cubes,
  • 4 Parmesan rinds                                                                                                                             
  • 1 lb.  Italian style chicken sausage sliced lengthwise and cut into 8ths                                                                              


In a large bowl, cover the beans completely with cold water and cover. Soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the beans and bring to a boil in a stockpot filled with 8 cups of water.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Set the beans and liquid aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a stockpot, heat the oil and add the bacon and onions. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, a tablespoon of salt, the pepper and tumeric. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, Swiss chard and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for  7 to 10 minutes.

Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor or Vitamix, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Add 9 cups of combined bean liquid and chicken or vegetable stock. Add the sliced sausage and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes.  Remove Parmesan rinds. Adjust salt and pepper and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.


Charlotte Goldblatt