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Monday was the national day of ribollita in the Italian Food calendar. It is one of the best-known dishes from Tuscany, and follows the tradition of “cucina povera”: “poor man’s food”.

“Bollire”, as you may guess, means “to boil”. Ribollita is something that has been “re-boiled”, specifically, leftover vegetable and bean soup which is soaked in day-old (or more) bread and reheated to create a thick texture which is almost solid.

Since the Catholic Church forbade the consumption of meat on Fridays, people often made enormous soups on that day. There would be leftovers for the next couple of days and always leftover bread to soak in it. (Bread was generally made every week in a communal oven in each hamlet and Tuscan cuisine abounds in ways to use it up!)

There are both handwritten and printed texts from as far back as the 1500s that refer to a soup made with Tuscan kale “cavolo nero” and bread. So when you eat it, you can imagine people half a millenium ago doing the same!

Purists will never put parmigiano on it, but dressed with a good drizzle of excellent extra virgin olive oil and a little black pepper, ribollita is “poor food” fit for a king!

Each family has its recipe for ribollita. They are all as valid as one another and just tend to vary regarding the exact vegetables used. This is ours and we hope you enjoy it!

The recipe

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