Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The hearty soup with a place in Tuscan hearts

The hearty soup with a place in Tuscan hearts
Soups don’t get much heartier than La Ribollita. Literally translated as ‘re-boiled’ the dish has been popular for centuries in Tuscany as a delicious, yet economical meal anyone can afford to enjoy. It’s a classic cucina povera (poor kitchen) dish, meaning the ingredients are cheap, but get the recipe right and it can taste fantastic.

The dish dates back to peasants in the middle ages. Back then, rich landowners enjoyed hearty banquets in their castles and stately homes. Rather than serving roast meat on a plate, it was dished up on cakes of unleavened bread, which soaked up all the gravy and juices. After the feast, leftover bread was thrown out and gathered by the peasants, who added vegetables and water, bringing it to the boil to bring out the flavours of the meat.

The three key ingredients traditionally used in La Ribollita are Tuscan bread, cannellini beans and kale. But the truth is, you can get away with almost any vegetables you have lying around – after all, it is a dish designed to make the most of leftovers.