My Favourite Ingredients
Jason Lowe

You will, no doubt, have seen this soup documented many times before. A much-loved dish from Tuscany, it consists of little more than reboiled beans, tomatoes, stale bread and cavolo nero – the beautiful black cabbage that hails from the region. My version replaces the bread with farro, but holds the tradition of finishing with lashings of beautiful peppery, grassy Tuscan oil. I often make this soup at home for my children – we let it sit on top of the stove and dip into it as we feel like it. To me this is ultimate comfort food… good for you in the extreme.


Quantity Ingredient
400g dried cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight
3 litres water
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
small bunch sage
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
150g farro, well rinsed under cold water
400g jar good-quality peeled plum tomatoes
bunch cavolo nero, thick stalks removed, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, preferably Tuscan, to serve


  1. Drain the beans and place them in a heavy-based saucepan. Pour on about 2 litres water to cover generously and cook over a low heat until the beans are soft, about 11/2 hours. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a separate cooking pot (large enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably) over a low heat. Add the onions, dried chilli and a pinch of salt. Sweat gently until the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Now add the celery, carrots, garlic, sage, potatoes and farro. Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the heat to begin to release the flavours of the vegetables, then add the tomatoes. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cooked beans, then cover with about 1 litre water – just enough for a thick brothy base in which the vegetables can cook properly. Add the cavolo nero and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for a further hour until the vegetables are really soft. Add a generous pinch of salt and a few good grindings of black pepper.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Let the ribollita stand for a couple of hours – this will improve the flavour no end!
  6. To serve, reheat the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Turn up the heat to emulsify, then ladle into warm bowls.
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