This famous ribollita soup is not really a soup in the literal sense; rather, it is a thick panade, or porridge, of bread, vegetables, and beans baked under a sheet of caramelized onions. It makes a wonderful meal in a bowl.
The word ribollita means “reboiled” in Italian, which is just what is done in Tuscan homes with a two- or three-day-old minestrone. A good ribollita is thick with greens, such as Italian black kale (also called Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale) and spinach, mashed and whole beans, and a mix of vegetables cooked and recooked so many times that they’ve turned meltingly soft. The topping of the ribollita of thinly sliced, cooked-till-crusty caramelized onions gives this dish a lovely appearance, especially when prepared, as is proper, in a wide-mouth earthenware casserole.
A good ribollita is truly divine. I like it so much I skip its earlier minestrone incarnations. Rather, I make the base soup, let it sit for three days, and then go for the masterpiece! In addition, if you don’t eat it all up, which wouldn’t be surprising since the dish is so rich, reheat it again, and it will only get richer and thicker. It’s also good served lukewarm.–Paula Wolfert
LC More From Paula Note
Paula is so impassioned when it comes to this ribolitta recipe, she has even more advice about its preparation. And we’re so grateful she shared it with us.
I save Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano cheese rinds in the freezer in a plastic bag, so a piece or two can be added whenever I make ribollita, or any bean soup with an Italian accent. Submerged in liquid, the rind will turn soft and add depth of flavor. If you sliver a softened piece and return it to the soup, it will dissolve and impart flavor throughout.
I learned a great method for preparing large volumes of greens in a soup pot from cooks on the Ligurian coast. After washing the greens, tear them up, salt lightly, and leave for 30 minutes. They will exude much of their moisture and will collapse but will retain full flavor and all their vitamins while giving up much of their bitterness. Before cooking, rinse off the salt, shred the greens even finer, and add to the soup pot.
Ribollita in the Style of Siena
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 20 M
- 5 H, 15 M
- Serves 8
Special Equipment: A 4- to 5-quart glazed or unglazed earthenware or flameware casserole and a deep 12-inch-wide ovenproof ceramic casserole or Spanish cazuela. If using an electric or ceramic stovetop, be sure to use a heat diffuser with the clay pots.