Ribollita – One Delicious Reason to Love Fall!

Mmmm … I so love fall and winter cooking. Squashes! Kale! Beans, lentils and hearty grains! Yum. And for once the heat from having my oven on in my tiny apartment doesn’t make me want to stick my head in the freezer. It can be challenging though to find really filling vegetarian main dishes. For full disclosure – I am not at all vegetarian, but I am cooking less and less meat at home these days for both budgetary and (mostly) health reasons. So when I do find a really easy, delicious and filling main dish recipe that is mostly if not all veggies, I get really excited. This Ribollita recipe from 101cookbooks.com (one of my absolute fave veggie cooking food blogs) is one of those. Though this super easy and good-for-you recipe is a soup, the beans and bread make it a filling main course paired with a crusty garlic bread and salad. I’m posting the recipe here for you, but if you get a chance, please pop over to 101cookbooks for some more delicious inspiration.


  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 Celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped (I always opt form some butternut squash here, it is SO good!)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes. (or diced and just smush them up a bit in the pan)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1lb kale, stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
  • 4 cups cooked white beans (or, as I use – 2 15 oz. cans)
  • 1/2 lb crustless bread
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • lots of well-chopped oily black olives

In a large thick bottomed pot (dutch oven is perfect!) over medium heat combine olive oil, celery, garlic, onion and carrot (or squash). Cook for 10-15 minutes sweating the veggies, but not letting them brown. (The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I like to add a few splashes of white wine here if I happen to have an open bottle at my elbow)

Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes till tomatoes thicken up a bit. Stir in the kale, 3 cups of the beans and 8 cups of water.Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, mash the remaining beans with a little water till smooth. Tear the bread into bite sized chunks. Stir beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread has broken down and the soup thickens, 20-30 minutes. Stir in salt to taste. Stir in lemon zest.

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or “ribollita” meaning reboiled, the next day. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.

This soup is really thick and hearty, if you serve it the next day it will be even thicker making it a perfect stick-to-your-ribs cold weather kind of meal. I like to serve this with crusty garlic bread  and salad.

Try pairing it with:

Mixed Greens and Shaved Fennel with Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Combine any amount of mixed greens with very thinly sliced fennel. To make the dressing: combine the juice of 1 lemon, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil in a jar and mix. Sorry, no exact amounts here – just taste and adjust as needed!

My mind is on nourishing food these days, (remember – one of the most important keys to being well is eating well!) so if you like the same thing, keep watching this blog because I am sure to be posting more recipes in the weeks to come. Enjoy, and please let me know if you try it out!

– Happy cooking!

Juliette Wilk is a certified massage therapist and self-care instructor at Oakland’s Life Balance Massage. She writes on a variety of self-care, healthy eating and balanced living topics aimed at helping people live a healthier, more positive, saner life. Join her onTwitter and Facebook to be sure and get your daily dose of sanity.

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