Dive into the heart of Tuscany with our Tuscan white bean soup, a dish that perfectly embodies the simplicity and richness of Italian cuisine. This soup, brimming with creamy white beans, fresh vegetables, and aromatic herbs, offers a comforting and nutritious meal—ideal for those chilly evenings or when you crave a touch of Mediterranean flair in your kitchen.
Each spoonful celebrates plant-based goodness, making it a must-try for vegans and soup lovers. Let's bring the essence of Tuscan cooking to your table with this delightful and easy-to-make recipe!
Before we delve into the heart of this traditional Tuscan recipe, let's pause to appreciate its roots. Ribollita, a name that resonates with the rich culinary history of Italy,
🤔 What is Ribollita?
Ribollita is a traditional Italian soup that is typically made during the winter months. The name Ribollita comes from the word "reboiled" because this soup is made with leftovers and can be repurposed, adding more veggies and carrying lots of flavors.
This hearty and healthy Tuscan soup is packed with flavor and nutrients, making it the perfect meal for cold days.
History of ribollita
Ribollita, a Tuscan vegetable soup with a centuries-old history, traces its origins back to the Middle Ages. My recipe stays true to traditional methods, informed by extensive research in Tuscany and Italian cookbooks.
In days gone by, the wealthiest diners showcased their affluence by eating meat atop flatbread "plates" made from Tuscan bread. Unlike bread bowls, these plates weren't consumed. Instead, they were returned to the kitchen, where resourceful servants repurposed the leftover bread.
These bread remnants, combined with seasonal vegetables like Lacinato kale, Swiss chard, and Savoy Cabbage, would find their way into large soup pots during the winter months. This created a hearty vegetable soup enriched with winter herbs and boiled stale bread. Some versions of the dish even included minimal, if any, meat to enhance the soup's flavor.
The essence of this soup lies in two key concepts: winter comfort and the use of humble ingredients. Why are these aspects so crucial? By appreciating the soup's modest origins, you can fully embrace its adaptability to contemporary tastes. This recipe calls for no extravagant components, staying true to its roots while offering warmth and simplicity, perfect for the colder months.
💚 Why you will love it
- Hearty & Nutritious
- Italian Fusion
- Versatile & Flavorful
- Comfort in Every Bite
- Aromatic Delight
This white bean soup is made with simple pantry staples; you can vary them depending on your needs.
- Yellow or White Potatoes: They add a comforting, starchy texture and subtly sweet flavor to the soup.
- Cooked or Canned White Beans: These beans provide a creamy texture and are a great source of plant-based protein.
- Stale Bread or Crusty Bread: Provides a hearty texture and absorbs the soup's flavors, thickening it naturally.
- Lacinato Kale Leaves: Known for their rich, earthy flavor and nutritional value, they enhance the soup's heartiness.
- White Swiss Chard: Adds a mild flavor and a delightful crunchy texture, complementing the other greens.
- Green or Savoy Cabbage: Contributes a sweet and silky texture, enriching the soup's overall complexity.
- Carrot: Brings a natural sweetness and vibrant color, enhancing the soup's visual appeal and taste.
- Onion: A foundational ingredient that offers the soup a sweet and aromatic base.
- Garlic Cloves: Infuse the soup with a pungent, aromatic flavor that deepens the overall taste profile.
- Celery: Adds a subtle, earthy flavor and crunchy texture, balancing the soup's richness.
- Tomato Paste: Provides a concentrated tomato flavor, adding depth and a hint of acidity to the soup.
- Fresh Thyme: Offers a slightly minty, earthy flavor, contributing to the soup's aromatic quality.
- Fresh Rosemary: Its piney, lemony aroma complements the other herbs and adds complexity to the flavor.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Enhances richness and adds a fruity, peppery note, elevating the soup.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Introduce a gentle heat, adding a spicy dimension to balance the soup's hearty and earthy flavors.
Optional: lemon juice, fresh parsley
I use two large saucepans for this great recipe, one for cooking the white bean soup and the other for transferring the soup to the one with the bread at the bottom. I just find it easier to manage.
To blend the white beans, I use an immersion blender since it is super quick and convenient because I can blend the beans directly in the pot, and the detachable piece can easily go into the dishwasher.
This Bean Vegetable soup is easy to make and can be made in just a few simple steps.
Chop ingredients and Sauté.
- Coarsely chop your veggies in dice and medium sizes. I like cutting carrots and other vegetables in quarters and halves.
- Slice white Swiss chard, savoy cabbage, and lascinato kale.
- In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, minced garlic, carrots, chopped celery, potatoes, tomato paste, blended cannellini beans, and chili flakes.
- Add fresh rosemary, thyme, and optional sage leaves.
Divide the cooked white beans into two and blend or mash half.
- Add the greens, including Swiss chard, cabbage, and half of the kale.; Then, Continue sauteing and stirring frequently for 7-8 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth or water and the remaining white beans. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer.
- Stir in the vegan parmesan to the simmering ribollita soup. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper.
Finish cooking and add bread.
When the ribollita soup is ready, in another large pot away from heat, arrange the stale bread, then add the soup on top, close the lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve in bowls with olive oil, lemon, vegan Parmesan, and toasted bread.
🥢 Serving suggestions
Although this soup is a main dish, you could serve smaller portions as the first course of a meal, followed by a light pasta dish or a winter risotto.
We like toasting artisan Italian bread with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven to serve this staple Mediterranean soup.
💡 Expert Tips
Bread Choice Matters: Opt for crusty bread over regular sandwich bread. It adds texture and doesn't disintegrate easily, maintaining the soup's consistency.
Kale Selection: Lacinato kale (Cavolo Nero) is ideal for its distinctive yet mild flavor. If unavailable, any kale variety works. For a more intense flavor, use kale that has been through the season's first freeze.
Chard Varieties: White Swiss chard is preferred for its mild flavor and crunchy texture. If you can't find it, other chard types are also suitable.
Cabbage Options: Savoy cabbage (Verza) is recommended for its silky texture and sweet taste. However, green cabbage is a good substitute if Savoy is not available.
Bean Flexibility: Cannellini beans are traditionally used for their mild and nutty taste, but feel free to experiment with other bean varieties like garbanzo or kidney beans.
Herb Choices: Fresh thyme and rosemary are recommended. If unavailable, dried herbs or Italian seasoning can be used as substitutes.
Tomato Paste Use: Fresh tomatoes are not ideal for this winter soup. Tomato paste is a better option, adding just a touch of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Olive Oil Quality: Extra-virgin olive oil, especially Tuscan, can enhance the flavor. Add it raw when serving to appreciate its full aroma.
Spice to Taste: Adjust the level of spiciness with black pepper or red pepper flakes according to your preference.
Tuscan White Bean and Pesto Soup: Stir in a spoonful of vegan pesto just before serving to infuse the soup with vibrant basil and pine nut flavors. The pesto's freshness beautifully complements the hearty beans and greens.
White Bean and Pasta Soup: Add a twist by incorporating your favorite pasta, such as small shells or ditalini, to make this soup even heartier and reminiscent of a comforting traditional minestrone soup.
Unfortunately, beans must be soaked in water before being cooked. Usually, the preparation time for the soup is about one hour.
After leaving the beans soaking overnight, rinse them thoroughly to remove any debris, such as rocks or sand.
Note: cover the beans with plenty of water, as they will likely absorb all of it.
Add beans to a large pot and add water. Cook the soaked white beans in boiling water for about 30 minutes and test for consistency.
Ideally, the water level should be three inches above the beans.
There is no need to overcook the beans as they will continue cooking with the soup.
Yes. Beans are gluten-free. All beans, peas, and lentils are naturally gluten-free. However, if you are buying canned beans or packaged bean products, always check the ingredients to be sure that no wheat flour has been added as a thickener.
Yes, you can. Fresh herbs will always add a more vibrant flavor, but the best ribollita recipe embraces its humble roots, which involve working with what you have.
If you can't find fresh herbs, you can use store-bought Italian seasoning in equal parts to the total amount of herbs the recipe calls for.
Leftover soup freezes well. Just store in an airtight container and freeze. It can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.
To thaw, leave the white bean soup in the fridge overnight and then reheat, or add it to a large saucepan with some water and partially cover it with a lid on low heat until it completely thaws and looks ready to eat.
You may want to add more broth, taste the white bean soup, and adjust the seasonings.
🍲 More vegan soup recipes
If you love soups, we have a couple of recommendations for you.
Try out this super easy 4-ingredient potato soup, which is oil-free and gluten-free.
Try our pea pottage for a protein-packed and easy-to-make soup; it is hearty and filling.
⭐ If you try this Italian bread soup recipe, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Tuscan White Bean Soup
- 1 onion large, diced
- 1 carrot medium, 3 oz, 80 g chopped in halves and quarters
- 4 clove garlic medium, minced
- 2 stalk celery 4 oz, 100 g sliced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 potatoes medium, chopped in medium sizes
- 3 cups white beans ~30 oz cannellini beans, cooked or 2 cans cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), or great northern white beans (affiliate link), divided in two
- 8 oz kale Lacinato kale leaves, cavolo nero in Italian (dark kale), coarsley chopped
- 5 oz white Swiss chard 100 g bietola in Italian), coarsley chopped
- 4 oz Savoy cabbage or green cabbage. 100 g verza in Italian), coarsley chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme fresh, or 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra-virgin
- 3.5 oz stale Tuscan bread Pugliese or ciabbata bread also work. Pick a crusty bread.
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes crushed, more to taste
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese
- 10 cups water or vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 leaves sage add with the rest of herbs
- parsley fresh, chopped
- extra olive oil to serve
- vegan parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
- extra bread
- lemon juiced, fresh
- Chop your veggies as directed.
- Blend half of the cooked cannellini beans and reserve.
- In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions.
- Lower heat to med-low and add the carrots, celery, tomato paste, potatoes, minced garlic, and chili flakes, and cook another 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Add greens, Including the Swiss chard, cabbage and half of the kale, and blended cannellini beans. Continue sauteing and stirring occasionally for 8 minutes.
- Add the water and remaining white beans. Bring to soup to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vegan parmesan to the simmering soup. Adjust salt.
- Arrange stale bread. In another pot, away from heat, arrange the stale bread and pour the soup on top, close the lid and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, vegan Parmesan, and toasted bread.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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