by Ed Smith

A thrifty Tuscan soup that gets the best from surplus ingredients

This classic Tuscan soup is a thrifty recipe, and perhaps something you might be prompted to make if you’ve the end of a sourdough loaf drying out in the bread bin, or a couple of parmesan rinds in the fridge—the bread helps to thicken the soup, while the cheese seasons it. You could use cavolo nero, curly kale or cabbage if you do not have rainbow chard.

For more on using leftover ingredients, read Ed’s blog.


1 onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
10-15 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
600g plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 leftover parmesan rinds
1 x 400g tin cannelini beans
80-100g ageing sourdough or country loaf bread
200-250g bunch of rainbow chard


Place a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Measure in 2 tbsp olive oil, allow this to warm a little then add the onions, bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook gently for 5 mins until relatively soft, then add the diced celery and carrot and cook for 5 mins more, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, thyme and chopped tomatoes (scraping in any juices at the same time), cook for a minute or so before adding the stock and parmesan. Bring to boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 mins.

After half an hour of simmering, drain and rinse the beans and tear or chop the bread into approximately 2cm cubes. Add both beans and bread to the soup and simmer for 20 mins more.

Slice the stems off the chard at the point they meet the leaves, then cut the stems into 2cm lengths and shred the leaves. Add to the soup and simmer for a further 10 mins. Taste and season with lots of flaked sea salt and black pepper.

To serve, ladle the ribollita into your soup bowls and finish each bowl with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe & images: Ed Smith