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From the book The River Cafe Cook Book by and
Serves 10

Culinate editor’s note: Ribollita, which means “twice-boiled,” is a hearty Tuscan vegetable soup thickened with stale bread. Even when cut in half, this particular recipe yields a large pot of soup. Because of all the vegetable chopping, it takes a while to make; either recruit some family members or make it while listening to a favorite radio show. I like it garnished with extra-virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Cavolo nero (see Note, below) is essential for an authentic ribollita. Robust greens such as Swiss chard, the dark green outer leaves of Savoy cabbage, kale, broccoli, or broccoli raab can be substituted.


1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 bunches of celery, chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
4 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
lb. cavolo nero or Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
cups dried cannellini or borlotti beans, cooked
2 loaves stale ciabatta bread, crusts removed and sliced or torn
~ Extra-virgin olive oil
~ Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, sauté the parsley leaves, garlic, celery, carrots, and onions in the oil for about 30 minutes, until the flavors combine. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook on gentle heat for a further 30 minutes, then add the cavolo nero and half the cannellini beans with enough of their cooking liquid to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, purée the remaining beans and add to the soup with just enough boiling water to make the soup liquid. Add the bread and a generous amount of the extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. As exact amounts are not possible, you must balance the amount of liquid to bread so that the soup is very thick.


Cavolo nero, a Tuscan kale, is often sold Stateside as lacinato or dinosaur kale.

This content is from the book The River Cafe Cook Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

There are 4 comments on this item
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0% recommend this recipe
1. by Teno1010 on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:00 PM PDT

Haven’t made this one, but did make The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. Other than substituting canned cannellini beans,as the raw ones just never got tender(That is even after 24 hrs soaked in water overnight),the recipe was followed with just a pinch of grains of paradise and it was sensational.Hers had a bit more to it than this one. Will make it again. Thanks for sharing.

2. by Reg A. Klubeck on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:30 PM PDT

I love chopping vegetables (a form of contemplative prayer). That’s not a downside for me!

3. by Laura Wallan on Mar 23, 2012 at 11:17 PM PDT

Lovely sounding recipe but there is no mention of onions in the list of ingredients. What happened?

4. by Carrie Floyd on Mar 31, 2012 at 1:37 PM PDT

Thanks for noting the error, Laura, the recipe has been amended.

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