Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ribollita Bento

Ribollita Bento by sherimiya ♥
Ribollita Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Here we go with more thermal bento! This one is called Ribollita, or Tuscan Bean Soup. It's cool because you toss in cubed bread at the end, which soaks up the soup and gets all soft. I think it's supposed to kind of dissolve into the soup and make it thick, too. I'm on a roll with these thermal jars, and it's a good thing I have at least 4 because on winter days like this it seems to be all I want to pack for their lunches. If you haven't noticed, I'm big on one-pot soups and stews, in which I tend to throw vegetables and beans of all kinds and colors. Sometimes my dish is less than traditional because of this. I mean, look at this one. It's got beans, veggies, bread -- it's practically a complete balanced meal in itself. If you do this too often it can be risky unless you're sure to change up the spices and flavors so they don't catch on that you're pushing the same kinds of ingredients on them every day. But come on; who doesn't love Tuscan bean soup?! I will never forget the bowl I had in Florence at that restaurant with the long rustic communal wooden tables, where we strangely happened to be sitting next to another couple from the US (in fact they were from El Cerrito, just about a half hour north of us), where I was so smitten that I slurped that bowl completely dry. I tried to replicate that bowl using Ina Garten's recipe. You can too, if you like:
Ribollita (Ina Garten's recipe)


  • 1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 pound large diced pancetta or smoked bacon
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (3 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage, optional
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the pancetta and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon 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 cooking 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.
In the side bento box: blood oranges, some chunks of a kind of sweet melon resembling honeydew, strawberry and blackberries.


  1. Ooooh yes! That sounds perfect! I want a bowl, lol. :) I have a confession... I don't have any thermal bentos. Haha. I thought about getting one for this winter, but it's been way too hot for soups and stews :(

    1. You're so lucky not to need thermal bento! You could probably get one to put gazpacho or borscht or something :)