Ribollita recipe is a hearty dish from Tuscany. Classically, seasonal vegetables are used in this rustic dish. It is a flavorful meal that is inexpensive to make since the ingredients are in season or available year-round. But, substitutions are what make this dish your own unique creation. If you don’t like kale, use Swiss chard, your favorite winter greens, or even spinach. The authentic recipe calls for fresh cannelloni beans and pancetta, favorites in Italian cooking. I use dry great Northern beans (or other white beans) and bacon since they are easier to find and less expensive. Using stale, crusty bread is a wonderful way to be frugal in creating a tasty meal with nothing to waste. Since Ribollita is a peasant dish, it is made with inexpensive ingredients. Traditionally, there is no meat in this dish, but you could certainly add cooked chicken, Italian sausage, or leftover ham (preferably Virginia smoked and salt-cured). And, it’s up to you how thick or thin you serve this soup. You can add enough bread so that it can be eaten with a fork. There are so many possibilities with this Italian classic. Give this hearty soup a try and it will warm you up from the inside out.
- ¼ c. olive oil, plus some to drizzle on bread
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, 2 minced and 1 whole
- 4 oz. bacon
- 1 t. salt
- ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- ½ lb. great Northern beans, soaked overnight and rinsed (or 2 cans, drained & rinsed)
- 1 T herbs de Provence
- 1 bay leaf
- 6-8 c. chicken stock
- 10 oz fresh kale, chopped
- stale French bread, sliced
- grated Parmesan, for serving
Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bacon, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add beans and next 3 ingredients. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours or until beans are tender. Turn slow cooker off; add kale; stir to wilt. Replace cover and let stand for 1 hour. Stir again before serving.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. The clove will melt onto the toasted bread. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.