This hearty ribollita recipe from Tuscany is a triumph of humble Italian cooking. Made of stale bread and a mixture of vegetables, it is a delicious, nourishing soup that is more than the sum of its parts. The dish gets even better with reheating, so ensure you make plenty to enjoy the next day.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • olive oil
  • 1 tin of cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced into 1 centimetre cubes
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sixths
  • 6 cavolo nero or cabbage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 sprig of thyme
  • 100 grams of stale bread, torn into rough 3 centimetre chunks
  • salt and pepper


  1. Add a splash of olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat.
  2. Gently sweat the onion, garlic, carrot and celery with the herbs, chilli flakes, fennel and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until soft but without colour.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the potato, cannelloni beans and reserved bean stock, topping up with water as needed. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. After this time add the cavolo nero and bread and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper
  6. For best results, chill the soup after cooking and reheat the next day. Serve with a generous drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper.


Food savvy tip: this soup is a perfect food-waste buster. It changes with the seasons and with what you have available, for example you may include courgettes in the summer instead of cabbage.

Hard core want more: if you can’t get enough of Italian cuisine try one of our five quick, simple and deliciously diverse pasta recipes.

By Mark Breen of Seasonal Kitchen.