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Banquet in a bowl.

8 to 10 servings


Overnight to soak the beans, about 30 minutes to chop the vegetables, and 45 minutes to cook the soup


Funny thing about ribollita—darling of wintry noon repasts in restaurants whose names end in vowels, where braised pork belly, rinds of melting Parm and all manner of wilted greens make their way into broth—is that ribollita used to be a simple bean and vegetable soup made with water and stoutened the second day with leftover bread. Its rolling name in Italian means “boiled again.” Ribollita, reheated soup, finds its way back to tiny villages where casseroles baked in the dying embers of a community oven once the daily bread was baked.

Yet who wants to feel the sting of poverty on a chilly afternoon? This superbly flavorful satisfying recipe gets way out in front of Tuscan white bean soup—and we’ve got the bread to prove it.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale, a medium saucepan, a large Dutch oven, a wooden spoon, a slotted spoon, a small bowl, a fine-mesh strainer, and warmed serving bowls.

  • for the beans:

    • 3
      ounces dried cannellini beans, covered with 2 inches of water, soaked overnight, and drained
    • 1
      Turkish bay leaf
    • 1
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 3
      cups spring or filtered water
  • for the soup:

    • 2
      tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4
      ounces pancetta, diced
    • 1
      medium yellow onion, diced
    • 8
      large garlic cloves, minced (1½ tablespoons)
    • 1
      ounce (2 tablespoons) tomato paste
    • 1
      medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and diced (5 ounces)
    • 2
      quarts Rich Homemade Chicken Stock, simmering
    • ½
      small head Savoy cabbage (14 ounces), halved, cored, and diced large
    • 1
      Turkish bay leaf
    • 1
      (2-ounce) chunk Parmesan Reggiano with rind
    • 3
      ounces stale Focaccia with Sea Salt and Black Pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 2
      small bunches lacinato kale, stemmed, leaves torn into 3-inch pieces (8 ounces)
    • 1
      large bunch rainbow chard, stems finely diced, leaves torn into 3-inch pieces (8 ounces)
    • 3
      tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, thyme, or basil
    • Fine sea salt
    • Red pepper flakes
  • for the garnish:

    • Coarsely grated Parmesan Reggiano
    • Wedges of oven-toasted Focaccia with Sea Salt and Black Pepper brushed with extra-virgin olive oil

    Cook the beans: In a medium saucepan, combine the drained beans, the bay leaf, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook uncovered until the beans are just tender but still bear a trace of starchiness remains at their center, about 30 minutes. Stir in the salt. Remove from the heat, but do not drain.


    Make the soup: In a large Dutch, oven warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, fragrant, and much of the fat has rendered, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook until just fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the fennel and cook, stirring, until the fennel is just heated through, about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock and add the bay leaf and Parmesan, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the cabbage and focaccia cubes. Drain the beans in a fine-mesh strainer and add them to the pot. Return the whole to a simmer and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until bread has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn down the heat and add the kale, stirring to submerge the leaves. Cover the pot and cook until the kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves and stems, the herbs, and the rendered pancetta. Re-cover and cook gently until everything is tender and the flavors have come together, about 5 minutes more. Season the soup with salt and red pepper flakes, then ladle it into warmed bowls and garnish with grated cheese and toasted focaccia.