The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Soup - Ribollita

Sjadad's picture

Bread Soup - Ribollita

My wife and I took our two children (12 and 10) to Venice and Florence recently. It was our kids' first trip to Europe and they loved it! While in Florence we had some pretty fantastic food. The local Tuscan bread, of course, is unique in that it is baked without salt. It turns out this suits the local cuisine because the people of Tuscany have many very flavorful dips and toppings for their bread.

One of the better things they do with "Pane Toscano" is use it in soups. One of the signature bread soups of Tuscany is Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup made with white beans, cabbage, kale, and chard. Stale bread is added to the soup and the next day it is re-boiled (ribollita means re-boiled), yielding a soul-warming porridge. The locals drizzle their finest extra virgin olive oil on a bowl of Ribollita and dig in.

When we returned home, inspired by our recent trip I baked some Pane Toscana (Daniel Leader's version) and used it to make a big batch of Ribollita. The recipe was Giuliano Bugialli's from his book "Foods of Tuscany". Well, for a brief moment my family and I were transported back to Mamma Gina's trattoria in Florence!

I'm sorry I have no photos. This "food of poverty" is a great example of how the most humble ingredients can be transformed into something truly extraordinary.


linder's picture


Yes, there is nothing better than soup and a slice of good bread.  During the winter month's it's warm and inviting.  Delicioso! We have that for dinner quite often these days.  "Good hearty peasant food", my husband says, and so it is.


taurus430's picture

Very nice story. When I go somewhere and have something to eat that I like, I come home and want to make it. When I was in Puerto Rico on business, I had the Flan, and came home and made it.

With bread baking, Jim Lahey in his book and others recommend using stale or left over bread for soups, salads, croutons and bread crumbs. The Italians do it all the time, and so does Rachael Ray. I saw this soup being made for the first time on RR 30 min show. I have made it and it is so good and hardy. Grandma would be proud of me!!!!

Thanks for sharing, Rob

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

It's difficult to follow my typing with tear filled eyes.  In 1996 we traveled to Italy.  I fell in love with all things Italian.  While in Florence we too ate at Mama Gina's but we had our first taste of Rebolita at Zah Zah's just behind the Mercato Centrali of Florence.  The workers of the market ate there.  I sat at the table upon a tree stump and our family sat on benches made of halved trees.  The soup was fantastic.  It came in a baby dish which had three compartments.  They were all kept hot by boiling water poured into the surounding portion of the bowl and the three sections were kept hot.  The rebolita was the winner by a landslide.  The wine came out of barrels on the wall.  I tried out my Italian, "Una becara vino ruso".  I expected one glass of red wine.  Why not.  The waiter laughted and brought one large pitcher of red wine.  Well, I had to drink it.  Afterall, I did order it...didn't I??????

Tuscan bread is unsalted because you are expected to enjoy it with salty foods the same day or using it in salty soups the f0llowing day.  Stu B.