If Spring Isn’t Here Yet, I’m Going To Keep Cooking Winter Food

Bowls of Ribollita

This post is my protest to Mother Nature. As Hillary mentioned last week, the first day of Spring in Chicago came and went without so much as a break in the cold temperatures or a pause in the snow. We’re still quite cold and dreary here. And even though our loyal Cub’s fans are willing to pretend it’s baseball weather, I don’t think I’ll be in that mentality until I see some sunshine.

I know I should be embracing the new, seasonal vegetables that are beginning to appear in the produce section, but all I really want is a big bowl of soup. I’ve been wanting to make Ribollita all winter, but, as so many other bloggers have expressed recently, there were just too many recipes and not enough time! But since Mother Nature has graciously granted us this eternal winter, it seems I’ll be making soup through July. (I really hope not!!)

I checked out a few recipes for Ribollita, but it was Ina Garten’s that really looked the best – surprise, surprise. Just the idea of large chunks of bread soaking up the deliciously flavorful broth was enough to make my mouth water. At the beginning of the recipe, she mentions that a Ribollita is an Italian soup that began as a way to use up leftover bread and ingredients at the end of the week.

I made a few adjustments and substitutions to the recipes, but overall I followed Ina’s lead. I didn’t use the pancetta and cut some corners using canned beans instead of fresh, but I don’t think either change really impacted the dish.

Ribolitta veggies cooking

I really loved the colorful variety of veggies in the pot as the kale cooked down with the carrots, celery and onions. The tiny bit of red pepper flakes really a zing to the broth without being “spicy” – an element that I was surprised to enjoy!

Ribolitta with Bread

Ina’s recipe makes a good deal of soup, but I was happy to have leftovers to freeze for an easy dinner down the road. The soup was certainly one that would make Ina proud. Dessert, however, was not. Don’t tell Ina, or the baking police, but we made the cake from a box.

It may be shameful to some, but that Duncan Hines cake was so light and fluffy and oh so easy to make! Plus, check out the frosting job that R pulled off. Who knew he was so good at frosting cakes!?

Duncan Hines Cake Mix Cake unfrosted Frosted Cake

But to get back to the real cooking, I highly recommend making the Ribollita anytime for a quick and filling soup. Make sure you use fresh, springy bread – it really makes a difference.

Ribollita Italian Soup
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Ribollita recipe


1 can cannellini beans
Kosher salt
1/4 C. olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 C. chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 C. chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 C. chopped celery (3 stalks)
3 Tbs. minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
4 C. coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage (optional)
4 C. coarsely chopped kale
1/2 C. chopped fresh basil leaves
6 C. chicken stock, preferably homemade
4 C. sourdough or ciabatta bread cubes, crusts removed
1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 Tbs. of salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, if using, the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Drain the beans, reserving their liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.

More Like This:
Crockpot Italian Sausage Soup
Italian Wedding Soup
Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

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  • http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com melissa

    wow!! that looks amazing.

  • http://www.aapplemint.com Kate

    its really sad that everyone is having a extra long winter … !
    this is a real hearty and comforting dish.

  • http://thevillagevegetable.blogspot.com Linda

    good idea. just last night i was having some hot chocolate. though i have debated whether or not its too late to buy squash.

  • James

    I used to live in Chicago and left because the weather sucked. Basically, Chicago has two seasons, winter and Fourth of July.

  • Addie

    This is the food I grew up on. And so did my children. New England winters can become bitter cold. Coming in after school and finding a pot of Robilita Soup on the back of the stove was always welcome. To this day, whether it be Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup or made from scratch Italian Soup, I still have to have Itlian bread to break up and soak up the broth. And when you have a large family to feed, nothing stretches that soup like leafy greens and cabbage along with Italian bread. Of course you wouldn’t want to tell the kiddies that it is good for them. Full of nutrition.

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