The weather, especially cool weather, often leads me to soups.  I enjoy all types of soup: creamy purées, thick lentil soups, chunky vegetable soups, clear consommés, refreshing cold soups and so on. But when the weather is cool, I usually turn to the king of all cold weather soups: the famous Tuscan ribolita. It is a thick, stick-to-your-ribs soup filled with healthy vegetables, beans and potatoes. It is excellent when first prepared, but like the name suggests (ribolita means to re-boil), the soup improves in flavor when reheated…and that makes this soup perfect for keeping around a couple of days!

Most ribolita soups you may encounter during a trip to Tuscany (or while browsing the internet) are somewhat different than the original.  They either lack in vegetable varieties or they are packed full of tomato puree and cheese. My version below is close to the actual DOC designated recipe, which was officially declared on the 24th of May, 2011 at the Florence Academy of Italian Cuisine. The designation followed a long research period with some of the finest restaurants in Florence participating. The concluding recipe implied most restaurants in Tuscany do not serve the real version, only impostors.

The soup does take a bit of time to put together, but hey…remember, it’s cold outside and what else are you doing? Some items…like the beans, can be prepared ahead of time. But, you will produce a far better version of this soup if you keep most of the preparation for the last minute. Try to find and use the best possible ingredients…and don’t worry if the soup appears too thick because you can always thin it a bit later with a tasty broth or by simply adding water.  Yield: makes about 3 liters

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