Cut the Carbs!

A true Tuscan ribollita is bulked out with stale bread. This is not that soup. In fact, it’s probably a stretch even claiming it a member of its extended family. But whatever its moniker, this is definitely a worthy dish for your winter repertoire. It’s rustic and filling with blended beans and tastes surprisingly complex courtesy of the sneaky inclusion of a Parmesan rind in the stock. For a meat-free version, omit the lardons and replace the chicken stock with vegetable. But it’s best not to overlook the pesto at the end – it will keep well in the fridge covered in some olive oil and elevates this rough and ready stew from a homely dish to something I’d happily serve up to company, any day of the week.

If you are serving it to guests, think about following it up with something equally hearty but slightly more refined, like the Orange, Chocolate and Hazelnut Puddings.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g lardons or streaky bacon, cut into batons
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2-1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, rinsed
750ml chicken stock
1 parmesan rind
200g cavolo nero or kale, leaves and stalks thinly sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Rocket, lemon and walnut pesto

Quantity Ingredient
large handful baby rocket
1/2 lemon, grated zest
1/2 garlic clove
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
25g grated parmesan
60ml olive oil


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over medium heat. Add the lardons and fennel seeds and sauté until the lardon fat begins to render. Add the onion, carrots, fennel, garlic and chilli flakes and sauté over low–medium heat for 10–12 minutes until the vegetables have started to soften.
  2. Tip one tin of rinsed beans into a food processor with the chicken stock and blitz to a purée. Add the liquid to the pan along with the other tin of whole beans and the Parmesan rind. Simmer, covered with the lid, for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, add the cavolo nero or kale and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes to soften.
  4. To make the rocket, lemon and walnut pesto, blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the Parmesan rind from the soup. Portion into bowls and serve with a generous dollop of the pesto on top.
low carb
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