Tuscan Bean and Cabbage Soup

Tuscan Bean and Cabbage Soup


Laura Edwards

‘Ribollita’ means re-boiled, and that is exactly what happens with this classic Tuscan soup: it is made a day or two in advance, then reheated, when it tastes better. It is a peasant soup, originally made from leftovers, or whatever was in season. There are many variations, but all contain cabbage and other vegetables, bread and cannellini beans.


Quantity Ingredient
300g dried cannellini beans
600g cavolo nero or outer savoy cabbage leaves
extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, finely sliced
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 courgettes, diced
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
6 slices good italian bread, preferably day-old


  1. Soak the cannellini beans overnight in cold water to cover. The next day drain the beans, and cover with 2 litres of fresh water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then cook for 2 hours, or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, lift out half the soft beans and blitz them to a purée in a blender. Add back to the whole beans and their broth.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the cabbage, cutting away the stalks from the cavolo nero, and the thick stalks from the Savoy. You are using the leaves only. Shred the leaves.
  3. Heat 50ml of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the leeks, carrot and celery for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, courgettes, cabbage and chopped tomatoes, then cover and cook very gently for an hour.
  4. Add the thyme and the beans with their broth to the pan, and gently cook for a further 30 minutes. When everything is soft, add salt and pepper to taste. Leave overnight now, if you like.
  5. To serve, warm the soup through thoroughly for about 20 minutes. Toast or grill the slices of bread, and put a slice in each bowl. Pour the soup on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and grind on lots of black pepper. Eat warm.
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