Mama Caruso’s Ribollita Recipe
Ribollita is a hearty Italian peasant soup. I first made ribollita while in Panzano in Chianti, Italy and when the cooking was all done, people came from all over to enjoy the meal. Paired with a simple house red wine and an apple tart, the locals shared with me that this was one of their favorite meals because it reminded them of their childhood; the fragrance while cooking, the comfort of the rustic flavors and the satisfying heartiness of the ribollita.
There are hundreds of recipes for this soup and I have taken broad liberties to make it a contemporary soup that is versatile and great for either a cold winter night or sitting out on the patio on a long summer’s evening. Enjoy...
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sweet yellow onions, chopped
8 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 carrots peeled chopped in 1 inch chunks
2-3 stalks of celery chopped
1 fennel bulb diced, including the fennel fronds
½ head of green cabbage chopped
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ teaspoon of red chili flakes (to taste – this is not a spicy dish)
1 teaspoon pinch salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 - 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
8-12 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, more if necessary
1 cup of half and half
Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
2 loaves of day-old Italian bread – or thick bread crumbs
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot
- Add garlic and onions and a pinch of salt
- Sauté garlic and onions for several minutes, until onions are soft, be careful not to brown the garlic (low heat)
- Add carrots, celery, fennel and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally
- Add cabbage, sprigs of thyme, chili flakes, salt and pepper – this will fill the pan and will reduce as it cooks
- Stir and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until the cabbage begins to get soft
- Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until the flavors start to mix together
- Add chicken broth to cover all of the veggies and simmer for 30 minutes, until all of the veggies are tender, continue to add chicken broth as necessary to keep the veggies covered
- Once the veggies are very soft, take off the stove and either use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to blend the soup into a coarse puree – this will be the final texture – so puree to your taste
- When the soup is pureed to your liking, add the half and half for a rich and creamy taste or use the remaining broth
- Your soup is complete and ready to serve
- Serves 15 – 20
Use Italian bread and toast thick slices in the oven ahead of time, gently rub a peeled clove of garlic over the bread after it comes out of the oven
Garnish with a thick slice of bread at the bottom of the bowl, ladle the soup on top of the bread, sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and a little dab of olive oil.
One serving is 1 ½ cups of soup, one slice of Italian bread and shredded parmesan cheese on top: 255 calories; 14 grams of fat; 9.5 grams of protein; 24.5 grams of carbohydrates.
Rough cut of the root vegetables
Chopping veggies for ribollita is simple and since they are all going to be pureed, not a thing to stress over in terms of uniformity.
The picture showing the ribollita ingredients above includes red chard which is not included in the recipe. Red chard gives this soup a wonderful earthiness, but changes the color from a rich dark orange to more of a purple and it is not very appetizing looking - so probably not a good option for your first time serving to friends.
Day old Italian bread is preferred, because it will hold up to the heartiness of the soup.
Rubbing a whole clove of garlic on toasted bread will give it lots of great garlic flavor, one clove will be good for several pieces of bread.
You can make this a day ahead of time and heat up in a crock pot
Don't know what an immersion blender is? I have added 2 links to advertisements for immersion blenders - or "stick" blenders below.
If you are interested in receiving a laminated color copy of this recipe, it is available on e-bay for $3.65 which covers the cost of printing, laminating, shipping and handling - it makes a great gift and you can link to the e-bay aisle by clicking on this link: