Ribollita is a poor dish of Tuscan peasant tradition that our grandmothers used to cook “so as not to throw anything away”. It is a soup of stale bread, black cabbage, savoy cabbage and beans that in winter, in front of the fireplace, warms the soul.
The housewives prepared it on Friday, the day of abstinence, when, according to Catholic tradition, eating meat was not allowed. But, in reality, in the past peasants frequently ate frugal meals, as the meat was a luxury and was eaten once or twice a week at most.
Since they made a lot of soup, it was often leftover and the next day it was “re-boiled”. It is precisely this step – which consists, in fact, of boiling it again after it has been left to rest – that gives the recipe its name and that still distinguishes it today.
Ribollita in Poggio al Bosco
Ribollita has always been cooked in Poggio al Bosco. Great-grandmother Zelina – mum Donatella says – used to put the vegetables from the garden together and boil them over very low heat several times, first on their own and then with the addition of the stale bread.
This was never lacking at the “Chiostrino“, the area where the winery is located. The inhabitants of the village shared an oven which they used in turn, once a week. Until, at the end of the 1960s, the Bartolozzi family built their own, where they could bake bread and schiacciata every day, which was – as you can imagine – a great comfort.
Returning to the ribollita, Zelina would eventually add the onion that her husband Giovanni brought straight from the garden. Sometimes she would add a raw egg, freshly brooded from the hen in the henhouse below the house. Thus the soup became more substantial, a perfect summer breakfast for those who, like Giovanni, were working in the fields from 4 am.
The recipe of ribollita
The preparation of ribollita is long, from the cutting of the vegetables to the cooking: it reflects the extended times of a few generations ago. But we’re sure that, if you follow our recipe, the unique flavour of this dish will make the wait worthwhile.
Ingredients (for 8 people)
- 400 g of dark and stale homemade bread
- 400 g dried white beans (cannellini)
- 700 g Savoy cabbage (half a ball)
- 400 g black cabbage
- 300 g chard leaves
- 2 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste (or 300 g peeled tomatoes)
- thyme (optional)
- 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots
- 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black peppercorns.
Cook the beans, soaked the night before, in 2 litres of cold, lightly salted water; mash about three-quarters of them and put the resulting puree back into the cooking stock.
In a large saucepan, brown the chopped onion and garlic in the oil and, as soon as they wilt, add a little thyme, the sliced carrots and celery.
After a while, add the potatoes and the remaining cleaned, washed and chopped vegetables. Add the tomato paste diluted in a little hot water (or the peeled tomatoes), salt and stew for a few minutes.
Pour in all the stock from the beans and cook slowly for about an hour, adding water if necessary. Finally, add the whole beans.
Cut the bread into thin slices and put them into the soup, stir well, cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
Let it rest for a long time (even overnight), then boil again for a few minutes, adding a little oil.
Serve the ribollita hot or warm, with a drizzle of raw oil and freshly ground pepper.
In addition to the one described in the procedure, there are two other ways to boil the vegetable soup. The first is to put it in an oven dish, then sprinkle it with thin slices of red onion, oil and pepper and bake it au gratin. The second way is to put the thick soup in a frying pan and cook it like a thick omelette.
Ribollita goes perfectly with a glass of our Estroverso IGT, rosé wine with a strong character and a good structure, but at the same time drinkable and lively.
P.S. If you want to enjoy ribollita like a true Tuscan, don’t grate cheese on it: that would be sacrilege!