Ribollita or Tuscan bread soup in a bowl.

That first taste of autumn arrived at the weekend.  Stormy rain rolled through on Friday night, lashing windows and dropping the temperature.  By Saturday that’d broken up into scudding showers that blew in with force along with a cool wind. It resulted in lamps getting turned on early, candles being lit and my favourite cosy clothes being pulled out of the cupboard for their first wear of this year.

That sort of weather always make me crave warm, hearty meals and one of my favourites is ribollita – a Tuscan bread soup. It’s packed full of vegetables, is bursting with flavour and is my go-to recipe whenever someone says they feel poorly…

My ribollita recipe is a slight adaption of the one found in The Australian Women’s Weekly Best Ever Collection cookbook. I’m including both what the original recipe calls for, as well as the tweaks I tend to make. You could easily omit a few ingredients and also make this vegetarian or vegan friendly.

Ingredients for ribollita or Tuscan bread soup.

What you’ll need

  • 100g of sliced prosciutto
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 x small brown onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 x trimmed celery stick, chopped coarsely
  • 1 x medium carrot, chopped coarsely
  • 2 x medium tomatoes, chopped coarsely (or 1 x 410g tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • 3 x cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 x cinnamon stick (I always forget the cinnamon stick!)
  • 1 x sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 x litre of water or chicken stock
  • 1 x loaf of olive bread
  • 200g of cavolo nero (it can sometimes be tricky to find, so I often use kale)
  • 125g of green beans, trimmed and chopped coarsely (I use sliced, frozen beans)
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of shaved parmesen

A pot of ribollita or Tuscan bread soup on a gas stove.

How to do it

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºc
  2. Coarsely chop half the prosciutto (I tend to cut it all up).  Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion, celery, carrot and prosciutto stirring until the vegetables are soft.  Add the tomatoes and half the garlic, cooking until soft.  Add the cinnamon (if you choose to!), rosemary and water/stock. Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Discard cinnamon and rosemary.
  3. Meanwhile, tear bread into chunks (or cut into generous sized cubes) and toss with the remaining garlic and olive oil on an oven tray. Place the remaining prosciutto on a wire rack over an oven tray (If you’ve cooked all your prosciutto already, leave out this step).  Bake bread for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Bake prosciutto for five minutes until crisp and break into pieces.
  4. Remove stalks from the cavolo nero (or kale) and chop leaves coarsely.  Add green beans to soup and simmer uncovered for five minutes.  Add cavolo nero (or kale) and cannellini beans and simmer uncovered for a further five minutes, or until tender.
  5. Serve soup topped with bread, prosciutto and parmesan.

The above recipe makes about four servings and to be honest, I actually think it tastes better the day after its made.  It freezes well (without the toppings of course) and is a firm favourite in our house.

Happy cooking!

Have a wonderful week. x

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