This Tuscan white bean and kale soup is a hearty variation of the very famous ribollita, a classic Italian recipe usually made with stale bread. My vegan-friendly version has the bread on the side, ready to be dunked in the delicious broth!
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Ribollita is one of the most famous soups ever to come out of Italy. It's part of what the Italians call cucina povera — thrifty and humble dishes with peasant origins.
The word "ribollita" means "reboiled" in Italian, and the soup is aptly named like that because originally it was made by reheating (or reboiling) leftover minestrone from the previous day and then adding stale bread.
This Tuscan white bean and kale soup borrows a lot from the traditional ribollita, and it indeed gets even better when reheated. The cooling down and reheating process adds an extra depth of flavour to the soup.
I don't mix the bread in the soup — instead, I make a big batch of soup and grill some bread (stale is even better) so everyone can dunk as much as they want in their bowls.
Another excellent way to serve this ribollita is to line the bowls with slices of bread and then ladle the soup over it.
The result is fantastic because the bread will soak up the delicious flavours and result in a very hearty meal.
And if you're looking for more easy vegan meal ideas, check out this collection of light vegan recipes.
What do you need to make Tuscan white bean and kale soup?
Leek, carrot and celery — These vegetables form the base of the soup and sauteing them in olive oil deeply enhances their flavour.
Dice the veggies quite small — the soup is not supposed to be super chunky. You can substitute the leek with onion if you want.
Garlic — I use four garlic cloves, but feel free to adjust the quantity to your liking.
Red chilli flakes — This gives the soup just a bit of a kick. Feel free to skip it or increase the quantity if you'd like your ribollita to be fiery.
Cherry tomatoes — Juicy fresh cherry tomatoes melt beautifully in this soup. You can substitute them with regular tomatoes diced in small chunks or even canned chopped tomatoes.
Fresh thyme and rosemary — Fresh herbs are best for ribollita because they infuse the broth with so much flavour.
Cannellini beans — I make ribollita with canned beans because it's so convenient, but you can definitely make it with dried beans that you've cooked from scratch.
Vegetable stock — Use the best quality veggie stock you can (homemade is always best) because it will really make a difference.
Cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) — Cavolo nero is a type of Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato kale) that is dark green and curly. You'll need a whole bunch of it to make ribollita Toscana.
How to make ribollita?
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot and saute the leek, carrot and celery for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until they soften.
Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 3-5, stirring occasionally, until they start to break down.
Next, stir in the fresh thyme and rosemary, then add the beans and veggie stock. Stir to combine and bring the soup to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with a lid on, then stir in the cavolo nero. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes until the kale wilts.
What type of bread is best for ribollita?
Stale crusty bread such as ciabatta or baguette is best for soaking up the flavours of ribollita.
Don't use very fresh bread because it will go mushy quickly and basically turn into a soggy mess.
You can also serve ribollita with croutons instead of bread — just be very generous with them!
Recipe notes and tips
- You can serve ribollita with a dash of lemon oil or just some lemon juice to brighten it up a bit.
- You can add any extra veggies you like to this Tuscan bean stew. Ideas include cabbage, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and courgette (zucchini).
- La ribollita freezes beautifully — you can make a large pot, allow it to cool completely, then transfer into freezer-safe containers.
- If you're not a vegan, you can add some Parmesan rind and /or pancetta to the soup.
If you liked this Tuscan white bean and kale soup, you might also like some of my other easy vegan soup recipes:
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup
- Easy Barley Soup with Vegetables
- Creamy Spiced Chickpea Soup with Coconut and Lime
- Vegan Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup)
- Instant Pot Vegan Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium leek, diced (white and light green part only)
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 250 g (½ lb) cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 x 400 g (14 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable stock
- 1 bunch cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), stems removed, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot and saute the leek, carrot and celery for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until they soften.
- Stir in the garlic and red chilli flakes and continue to cook for another minute until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 3-5, stirring occasionally, until they start to break down.
- Next, stir in the fresh thyme and rosemary, then add the beans and veggie stock. Stir to combine and bring the soup to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with a lid on, then stir in the cavolo nero. Put the lid back on and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes until the kale wilts.
- Stir in the fresh parsley, season to taste, and serve with crusty bread.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1115mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 9gSugar: 5gProtein: 13g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.