Cavolo nero and bean soup (ribollita)

A lovely, chunky winter meal.
A lovely, chunky winter meal. Photo: Marco Del Grande

This traditional thick soup is adapted from a recipe by chef Marco Ribechini from Villa Bongi in Lucca, Tuscany. Unlike spinach and silverbeet, cavolo nero requires long, slow cooking to bring out its dense, meaty flavour. It is particularly compatible with beans or lentils.


4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 carrots (finely chopped)

2 onions (finely chopped)

1 celery heart (finely chopped)

3 garlic cloves (chopped)

250g of cavolo nero

350g of sliced, peeled potatoes

2 x 400g tin or cooked borlotti beans

400g tin or cooked cannellini beans

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

150g of Savoy cabbage

salt and pepper

bread, to serve


1. In a large soup pot, heat 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and lightly fry a finely chopped mixture of 2 carrots, 2 onions, a celery heart and 3 garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes.

2. Clean and wash the cavolo nero and roughly chop the leaves. Add them to the vegetables with the sliced, peeled potatoes and lightly fry for a further 5 minutes.

3. Drain one of the 400g tin of borlotti beans, plus the cannellini beans and add to the vegetables, along with a tin of chopped tomatoes, 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme and the chopped cabbage. Season with a few good pinches of salt, mix well, turn up the heat and add enough water to just cover. Once it boils, turn to a simmer for 30 min.

4. Drain the second tin of borlotti beans, and mash them roughly with a fork. Add to the soup and simmer for a further 15 min.

To serve: Season with salt and pepper and serve with toasted bread and a good drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil available.