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Healthy Tuscan Ribollita

vegetable soup in a white bowl

Ribollita is a rustic Tuscan soup made with colorful veggies, fresh herbs and bread. This one pot dinner recipe is a great way to get a lot of hearty nutrients into your diet while enjoying a big bowl of comforting Italian flavors like tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. I hope you enjoy this meal-prep friendly vegan soup recipe!

vegetable soup in a white bowl

What is Tuscan Ribollita Soup?

The original recipe is a vegetable based soup made with white beans and greens like escarole, kale and cabbage. This classic soup recipe can be traced back to centuries ago when meat was mainly reserved for the wealthy upper class, and only small amounts of scraps were given to the lower class workers, known then as peasants. Because of this, Italian “peasant cooking” consists mostly of vegetables and very small amounts of meat; usually just scraps or leftovers.

The genius of Italian peasant cooking though, is that they creatively used what was available to them. They made the most of every ingredient and discovered brilliant ways to imbue lots of flavor into otherwise simple staples. This cuisine consists of vibrantly colored vegetable-based soups, stews and pastas.

If meat was used, it was a usually just small amount that they would make stretch to feed a large family by using the meat as a flavor booster rather than the star of the show. Examples of this include soups that rely on animal bones for flavor or pasta sauces that start with a base of pancetta. Meat was not the main event. It was vegetables that helped build out the meal and make a lot out of little.

A principle of peasant style cooking is to let nothing going to waste. They not only used leftovers, they transformed them. In fact, Ribollita means “reboiled” in Italian because it’s made by repurposing leftover vegetables and “be-boiling” them into a soup that thickened with day-old bread. Now a days Ribollita is known as a hearty Tuscan-style soup made from a base of onions, garlic, and herbs. White beans, cabbage and kale are simmered in a rich tomato broth mixed with bread to naturally thicken the soup and give the broth a bit of body.

There are many, many iterations of this old school Italian recipe, but this is my plant-based take on it: A veggie-packed vegan Ribollita soup recipe that is intensely flavorful, nutritious and so comforting. I hope you enjoy it!

vegetable soup in a white bowl

If you’re already hungry for more vegan Italian recipes, you’ll love this Classic Pasta e Fagoli recipe and my Creamy Truffle Parmesan Polenta! Mangia!

Ingredients to Make Tuscan Ribollita Soup

  • Onions and Garlic
  • Carrots and Celery
  • White Beans and Kidney Beans – I like to use one can of each for variety, flavor and nutrient diversity.
  • Canned Tomatoes – I recommend using Italian San Marzano tomatoes. They’re rich and sweet and much less acidic other kinds of canned tomatoes.
  • Veggie Broth – any broth you like will work but I LOVE using this vegan “not-chicken” broth. It’s so tasty!
  • Vegan Italian Sausage – In keeping with classic peasant cooking, we’re using it as a base flavor component, not the star of the show. Just one link is all you need!
  • Kale and Green Cabbage – if you don’t like veggies, try this soup. Trust me. The greens become intensely flavorful in this savory broth. I honestly can’t get enough!
  • Fresh Basil – leaves and stems. Let nothing go to waste 🌿
  • Sourdough Bread – use bread that’s a bit stale. This will thicken the soup, add body to the broth and prevent day-old bread from going bad.
tomato broth with kale and white beans in a stockpot

How to Make White Bean Ribollita

Start by crumbling one vegan sausage into a large stockpot. Cook for 2-3 minutes to brown and then add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

Next add carrots and celery. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and chopped basil stems. Cook for one minute.

Add the cabbage, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. The cabbage cooks down and almost sweetens a little as it simmers in this savory broth. The result is incredibly tasty!

sautéed cabbage and carrots in a dutch oven

Next add the canned tomatoes, basil leaves and vegetable broth. Then drain and rinse the canned beans and measure out 1 cup. Mash one cup of beans into a smooth paste and add it to the pot along with the remaining beans and chopped kale.

mashed beans on a white plate

The starch from the beans will give this broth some body!

Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the bread. I use a wooden spoon to submerge the bread into the bubbling broth and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

vegetable soup in a stockpot

Then ladle this colorful soup into bowls, squeeze some lemon on top and enjoy!

Why does this vegan soup taste so good?

The secret to this flavorful plant-based soup is that it slowly builds layers of flavor. The first layer comes from the vegan Italian sausage. We brown it (flavor) and render out some of the fat which will infuse the veggies with you guessed it, flavor! Next comes the aromatics: onions, garlic, carrots and celery. The onions and carrots are naturally a bit sweet which helps to balance the acidity of the tomato broth.

The trick is sauté on medium heat. Resist the urge to turn the heat up because low and slow is best here. Each time we add an ingredient it needs to cook for about 5-10 minutes so that it has time to really develop good flavor.

Using good quality tomatoes goes a long way here too, which is why I opt for San Marzano when possible. They can be a little pricey but I recommend shopping around because I found a 28oz can for almost 5 dollars at one store, and only 2 dollars at another store the next day. Look for a bargain or a sale and then stock up! These Italian tomatoes make soups like these so much better.

RECIPE FAQs

Is this good for meal prep? Yes! It’s actually better the next day and the day after that, so I love to make this for meal prep!

Is this soup freezer friendly? Absolutely. Let the soup cool completely and then freeze for up to 6 months.

Can I skip the sausage? Sure! Instead of starting with the sausage, skip to sautéing the onions with an additional tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tsp of light miso paste such as chickpea miso and 2 tsp dried fennel seeds. Then continue making the recipe as written. It will be a little different but very tasty!

Can I leave out the bread? Yep. This soup is traditionally made with bread but it still tastes great without it. The mashed beans helps give the broth some body so leaving the bread out is totally fine!

What’s the easiest, most time-efficient way to make this recipe? I do this in 2 parts. Part one is prep. I open the cans of beans and tomatoes and set those aside. I wash the veggies and chop them all up, usually while listening to a podcast or my favorite comfort tv show like Gilmore Girls…you know, the kind of show that you can kinda half-listen to while cooking without being too distracted? lol I also use a veggie chopper, linked here, to make easy work out of chopping. It’s inexpensive, powerful and super fast so I can get tiny little pieces of veggies without having to chop very much.

Then all that’s left to do is drop my ingredients into a large stockpot like this one and let it simmer while I tidy up the kitchen and enjoy the delicious scent of garlic, tomatoes and basil bubbling away on the stove. In about 30 minutes, dinner is ready, the kitchen is clean and I’m feeling pretty cozy. This two-step process – chop first, then cook – is ideal because chopping in between cooking feels like a lot of back and forth which leaves me feeling a little flustered. Plus, then the kitchen is messy after dinner so try this 2-step method and let me know what you think!

dutch oven on a white stove

vegetable soup in a white bowl

Healthy Tuscan Ribollita

Nicole Vranjican
A Tuscan soup made with onions, garlic, and herbs. White beans, cabbage and kale simmered in a rich tomato broth thickened with bread.
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 vegan Italain sausage link I used Impossible
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp kosher salt I use Morton's
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 5 cups chopped green cabbage about 1/2 of a large head
  • 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes crushed
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 15oz can white beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups vegan chicken broth or veggie broth
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1.5 cups white or sourdough bread mostly the middle, slightly stale works well
  • lemon wedges for serving optional

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Chop the onions, carrots, and celery and set aside. Then mince the garlic and remove the leaves from the basil stem. Finely chop the basil stems and set everything aside.
  • Drain and rinse both cans of beans and open (but do not drain) the can of tomatoes. Measure out 1 cup of the beans and mash well with a fork to create a creamy paste. Then set the mashed beans, the remaining beans and the canned tomatoes aside.
  • Chop the cabbage, and de-stem the kale. Roughly chop and set aside. Now let's get cooking!

Cook

  • Add the olive oil to a large stockpot and set the medium high heat (7 out of 10)
  • When the pan is warm, crumble the vegan sausage into the pan and let it brown for 2-3 minutes. Resist the urge to stir too much. Some direct contact with the pan will help the sausage caramelize and create flavor.
  • Then add the onions, stir well and lower the heat to medium low (4 or 5 out of 10). Cook for 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and celery and cook for 8 minutes.
  • Then add the garlic and chopped basil and cook for one minute. Stir occasionally.
  • Next add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  • Then add the whole can of tomatoes (juice and all) into the pot along with the basil leaves (roughly torn into large pieces) and the broth. Set the lid ajar on the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Then add the mashed beans, whole beans and chopped kale. Stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Finish by adding the chopped bread into the pan, mostly the middle part. Submerge the bread into the bubbly broth and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve

  • Ladle into bowls and squeeze some lemon on top if desired! Serve with crusty bread on the side for dipping and enjoy!

Notes

The trick is sauté on medium heat. Resist the urge to turn the heat up because low and slow is best here. Each time we add an ingredient it needs to cook for about 8 minutes so that it has time to really develop good flavor.
Using good quality tomatoes goes a long way here too, which is why I opt for San Marzano when possible. They can be a little pricey but I recommend shopping around because I found a 28oz can for almost 5 dollars at one store, and only 2 at another the next day. Look for a bargain or a sale and then stock up! These Italian tomatoes make soups like these so much better.
Want to skip the sausage? No problem. Instead of starting with the sausage, skip to sautéing the onions with an additional tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tsp of light miso paste and 2 tsp dried fennel seeds. Then continue making the recipe as written. It’s a little different but very tasty!
Can I leave out the bread? Yep. This soup is traditionally made with bread but it still tastes great without it. The mashed beans helps give the broth some body so leaving the bread out is totally fine!
Freezer Friendly: Let the soup cool completely and then freeze for up to 6 months.
Keyword dinner,, healthy, italian, soup
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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

Find me on: Instagram

1 Comment

  1. Judie
    September 5, 2022 / 3:58 am

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner(: it was a hearty filling veggie soup. I followed the recipe exactly as written. When it was finished I served myself a bowl complete with fresh sourdough croutons. As I ate the soup I realized it was a bit acidic for my liking so I added a little agave to my bowl. It did the trick. I’m now at the point were I want nooch in every soup sadly I was out or I woulda sprinkled some in too 😁 thanks for the recipe Nicole!

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