Sienese Ribollita

Ribollita is a typical Tuscan peasant dish; a recipe born out of the need not to throw anything away, not even stale bread. A poor dish, albeit decidedly tasty and also very healthy, thanks to the presence of black cabbage, which lends itself perfectly to the taste of the beans and other vegetables.  It is called ri-bollita (re-boiled) because it must be boiled twice. If you don’t have time, you can also taste it after having boiled it once, but you certainly won’t be disappointed if you try after two times! True Tuscan even recommend eating it the next day, obviously after having re-boiled it, so as to release the exceptional flavor of this recipe.

Several variations exist, and the one that we are presenting here is the Siena version. Keep in mind that the preparation time, taking into account the cooking and also the resting times, is somewhat long. Therefore calculate at least 3 hours.


  • 2 large onions
  • 300 g black cabbage
  • 100 g savoy cabbage
  • 150 g carrots
  • 259 g celery
  • 100 g chard
  • 500 g white cannellini beans
  • 500 g tomato sauce
  • 200 g bread
  • 50 g extra virgin olive oil


1 Before starting, place the beans (after having been soaked for the usual 8 hours) in a pan with plenty of cold water, bring them to a boil on low heat, and let them cook for at least one hour.

2 In the meantime it is necessary to get a fairly large pot. Prepare a mixture of onion (coarsely chopped), and let it fry in oil with a drop of water, and in the meantime chop all the vegetables.

3 Once the onion has dried slightly, add carrots, savoy cabbage, celery and the black cabbage, all previously chopped. Mix with a wooden spoon.

4 At this point the boiled beans should be drained. Remember to keep the cooking water aside, since you can use it again for blending part of the beans as well as for adding it to the soup during the next steps.

5 Now blend half of the drained beans, helping yourself out a bit with some of the cooking water, and add them to the pan with the vegetables, along with the remaining beans left whole. Add the tomato sauce and the remaining cooking water of the beans until the vegetables are covered. Let it cook with a lid for at least 2 hours on low heat.

6 When the soup is ready, slice the bread (traditionally it should be stale) and toast it in the oven. Once it is ready, place it in a bowl, alternating layers of bread with layers of soup.

7  Season with salt, pepper and chili peppers (according to taste) and let it cool in a refrigerator. Once it has cooled, pour it in a pan and let it re-boil. Serve with a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil.

I Comuni di Terre di Siena