Comfort Food Recipe: Ribollita

All of these storms call for a healthy serving of comfort food, and it doesn’t come much more comforting than a big bowl of ribollita. Ribollita is a traditional hearty Tuscan soup or stew, made with stale bread and featuring “dark greens and lots of beans”. Ribollita translates as “reboiled” which, along with its loose recipe gives away it’s Italian peasant origins; it was made by reboiling leftover vegetable or minestrone soup and bulking it out with beans and leftover stale bread. The bread should be crusty and a little stale, so that it soaks up some of the liquid but retains its shape rather than dissolving! As yet more named storms batter the country, I’d encourage you to make a big pot of ribollita, hunker down, and get comfy!

Ribollita (serves 4-6)


  • Cannellini beans (or any tinned/dried beans) if dried, soak overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • High welfare pancetta
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 red onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ fresh chilli (optional)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 handful of stale crusty bread
  • ⅔ cavolo nero
  • ¼ of a cabbage


  • 1 tin anchovies
  • Handful parsley/dill/basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
preparing the ingredients for ribollita


Finely chop your carrot, onion, celery, garlic then heat a large pan with a splash of olive oil, bay leaf and pinch of salt. Add the pancetta then sweat the veg very slowly, adding water if necessary. Sweat for a good 10-15 mins, not browning the vegetables.Then add the tomatoes and season.
Add the beans with a little water and generous amount of black pepper, bring back to the boil. Then slice the cabbages and add to the pot. Roughly tear the bread and throw it in. The soup wants to be thick but not dry, so just keep an eye on the water level and adjust if necessary.
For the dressing finely chop the anchovies, herbs and garlic. Then combine with the vinegar and oil.
Ladle into warm bowls and finish with the dressing on top. Serve on a cold and wet evening.

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