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Tuscan Black Cabbage Soup

Ribollita is a classic Tuscan soup. The word means to reboil, as in make this soup one day and reheat it the next. The key ingredients are fresh or dried cannellini beans and cavolo nero or black cabbage with sturdy dark green elongated leaves. Use kale if cavolo nero is not available. This hearty soup is usually served over slices of thick toasted bread.

Begin the process by soaking the dried beans overnight. I like to add the salt and pepper after the soup is cooked.

Serves 8


1 cup dried cannellini beans

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large sprig fresh rosemary

1 medium onion, diced

1 small fresh chili pepper, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 small zucchini, diced

1 pound cavolo nero or kale, stemmed, washed and torn into pieces

6 plum tomatoes, diced

6 cups hot water

1/2 pound green beans, cut into thirds

2 teaspoons celery salt

1 tablespoon salt

Grinding black pepper

8 slices toasted Tuscan bread

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for sprinkling


Put the beans in a bowl and cover them with 3 cups of cold water. Allow them to stand overnight. The following day drain the beans and transfer them to a 2-quart pot. Cover the beans with 6 cups of water and cook them for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain the beans. Puree half of them and set all the beans aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the rosemary, onion, chili pepper, carrots, and celery. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the potatoes, zucchini, kale, and tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in the whole beans.

Pour in the water and the pureed beans and stir all the ingredients well. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.  Uncover the pot, stir in the green beans and cook 5 more minutes.

Stir in the celery salt, salt, and pepper. Taste for seasoning.

Toast the bread slices then place one in each of 8 soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the bread, sprinkle with the cheese and serve. Pass additional olive oil to drizzle on top.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press.

This recipe is featured on show 2112 – Roast Pork, Tuscan Style.


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