This is one of my most requested recipes. Also known as “Tuscan Bean Soup,” it is a real crowd pleaser. I’ve tripled this recipe and fed nearly 50 people with it at our annual Christmas open house party.
It’s an Italian vegetable soup, with a jolt of meat. I got this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, but incorporated a few short cuts so you can make this in about 1 1/2 hours. There are other ribollita soup recipes out there, but trust me, this is the best. I’ve been told this by other Italians.
If you’re not familiar with pancetta, think of it as Italian bacon. You can find it in the deli section at most supermarkets and it comes either as a whole piece, sliced, or cubed. I bought mine as a whole piece and then chopped it up into small cubes. It is made from pork and then cured, but it needs to be cooked before you can eat it.
The taste is sweet and a little sour with a punch of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes. It’s a great, hearty soup on a cold winter night.
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- 1 large can of cannellini beans (about 19 oz.)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 pound diced pancetta
- 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 onions)
- 1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 carrots)
- 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon salt (I always use Kosher as it’s the most flavorful.)
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28 oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
- 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably the imported Parmesan Reggiano), for serving
- Step 1 Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.
- Step 2 Add the pancetta and onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 3 Add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 4 Add the tomatoes with the puree, the kale, and basil. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 5 Rinse the cannellini beans under cold water. Puree half of them in a food processor with about 1/2 cup of water.
- Step 6 Add pureed beans to the soup. And then add the remaining half of the whole beans. And stir.
- Step 7 Add the eight cups of chicken stock.
- Step 8 Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Step 9 Add the bread cubes to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes.
- Step 10 Serve hot in large bowls. Sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. And then drizzle a little olive oil over it.