Ribollita is an Italian soup that was traditionally seen as peasant food. The great thing about this soup is that it makes an ideal base for any additional ingredients that you might want to add. Think of it as an opportunity to give a last moment of glory to any miserable veggies left at the bottom of your fridge! I keep leftover Parmesan rinds in my freezer, which I add to sauces and soups like this to give a unique rich flavour. Add a couple while the soup is simmering and simply fish them out before serving.


  • 1 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 150g (5oz) smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 x 400g (14oz) tins of whole plum tomatoes
  • ½ head of Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 1.5 litres (2½ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1–2 leftover Parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 3 large handfuls of sourdough bread, cut into cubes
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, to serve


  • Heat the oil in a large cooking pot over a medium heat, add the bacon and onions and fry until the onions are tender. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and chilli flakes and stir through, cooking for a further 5–6 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
  • Pour in the plum tomatoes and use a potato masher to quickly break them up, then add the shredded cabbage and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf and any leftover Parmesan rinds you might have, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
  • Add the cubes of bread and cannellini beans and cook for a further 6–8 minutes until the bread has softened and thickened the soup. Serve in deep bowls, sprinkled with grated Parmesan and drizzled with a drop of extra-virgin olive oil.