Recipes from Authentic Italian Women – Tuscan Ribollita Soup

As you may realize by now, my desire is to connect you to the real, authentic Tuscany.  A large part of that, of course, is the food.  Who better to consult about Tuscan cooking than authentic Tuscan women? 


I am presenting a series of recipes from friends, family members and colleagues who are authentic Tuscan women or women from other regions of Italy.  The theme is authentic recipes, not Americanized versions. You will find plenty of those online, in cookbooks and on television!


The first thing you should know is that Italian recipes are written with weights (not measurements for cups or spoons).  The second thing you must know is that recipes are guidelines and suggestions since everyone has different tastes and traditions.  For example, everyone in Tuscany has a different twist on their soups.  So, if you want to add an accent of your own (such as a favorite herb), feel free to do so.  Just make sure to pay attention to the freshness of each ingredient and that any additions you use be “in tune” with the taste of the recipe.Recipes from Authentic Italian Women - Tuscan Ribollita Soup

Manila – Florence, Tuscany, Italy

My friend Manila is a beautiful, doe-eyed woman who lives in Florence. Her husband owns the Ancre jewelry store near Piazza San Marco which is a favorite boutique of the locals.

Manila has raised her three sons in Florence and has taught pre-school and elementary school for many years. Her dream, however, is to own a catering business.

Manila’s passion for Tuscan cuisine is well-known and she is considered one of the best cooks around. My cousins and I were blown away by a meal Manila cooked entirely based on fresh Tuscan mushrooms.  When she smilingly opened her front door and the aromas wafted towards us, it was heavenly. And I will never forget about the bone-in prime rib cooked in the wood-burning oven in her courtyard in downtown Florence.

Following is Manila’s recipe for the famous Ribollita (twice boiled) soup of Tuscany.  If this recipe works for you half as well as it does for Manila, you will be very happy!

Printable version

1 kg unsalted Tuscan bread
1 kg cannellini dry cannellini beans
3 bunches Tuscan black cabbage* shredded
1 Napa cabbage shredded
1 leek roughly chopped
4 carrots roughly chopped
1 large onion (red preferred) chopped
4 zucchini sliced
4 potatoes cut into cubes or sliced (your preference)
4 celery stalks roughly chopped
parsley (according to taste)
1 large can San Marzano whole tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

*Kale Laciniato. Known as Tuscan Black Cabbage or Dinosaur Kale in its native Italy, where it is prized for soups and stews. Tall plants have savored, strap shaped leaves up to two feet long.
Follow the dry bean package directions and cook the beans.  Saute the onion in the e.v.o.o.  Add the tomatoes, the Tuscan black cabbage, the leek, the carrots, the potatoes, etc and add water half the depth of the vegetable mixture.

When these are cooked, take 2/3 of the cooked beans and run them through a food mill, blender or processor until smooth and thick. Add this to the cooked vegetables along with the rest of the cooked beans.

Cook for another 15 minutes.

Slice the bread into 1/4 inch slices and arrange them in the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven add some of the cooked soup.  Alternate layers of bread and soup until you have used up all the soup. Let this rest covered for at least 12 hours.

After the ribollita has rested, pour additional e.v.o.o. to taste (anywhere from 2 Tbspns to 1/2 cup).  Bring the soup to a slow boil and cook for at least another 1/2 hour. Serve hot.
Buon appetito!

Ciao a tutti, Serenella


5 Responses to “Recipes from Authentic Italian Women – Tuscan Ribollita Soup”

  1. Paul on October 7th, 2008 4:06 am

    Ah! Black Tuscan cabbage, my Mom would make it by the bucket full and Enrico and I would gobble it down. I love the idea of your introducing Tuscan recipes. Keeping the history of the Tuscan kitchen alive as I remember it as a child. Maybe you can have our Mothers come up with their favorite dishes and publish them on your site. I’ll be waiting for the baccala recipes!!



  2. Jim on May 17th, 2009 6:19 am

    Gee, I love ribollita…an all-season favourite (even cold is great!)..I am collecting a list of peasant Chianti recipes at, and I would like you to check them out..the list is growing, although at the moment I was able to discover some quite delicious and peculiar recipes to try.

  3. Serenella on May 17th, 2009 10:10 am

    Jim, it seems you love Tuscany and you love to cook. How are you gathering your recipes?
    I have a lot of recipes from Nothern Tuscany (province of Lucca and Garfagnana). Are you specializing in recipes around the Chianti area?

  4. Save money wisely: The antique Italian art of cooking with leftovers | Tuscany Travel Blog on June 14th, 2009 1:34 pm

    […] an example, here is a recipe for Tuscan Ribollita Soup. It is an abundant recipe (for 10 or 12 people) so that you can store some in the freezer for […]

  5. mary lynne on November 8th, 2009 8:47 pm

    Your recipe sounds wonderful. I was in Florence/Tuscany for about 2-1/2 weeks (just got back mid-October) and it was so wonderful. And I had ribollita twice, both times on kind of damp, cool nights and it was delicioso! I had been looking at recipes for this soup way before my trip and so wanted to make sure I tried it while there. The two I tried were somewhat different from each other. One had discernible “lumps” of bread (I think) in it. At first I thought they were chunks of potatoes but finally realized they weren’t. Since then, I’ve even wondered if they might have been gnocchi cause they were fairly solid and chewy. The other bowl was just a mass of un-identifiable deliciousness. I’ve been looking like you said in cookbooks, on line, etc., and tonight something made me think to type “authentic Tuscan ribollita” into Google and there you were. Now, please tell me – is there anything I could substitute for the black cabbage without losing too much? Could I just use kale (since your note points out that the black cabbage is the kale family)?

    I’m off now to explore your site further. Thanks!