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Ribollita with chopping board pesto

21 January 2019

A delicious Italian soup that uses up leftover bread and vegetables, from Matt Pritchard.

Ribollita with chopping board pesto

Preparation time

15 minutes

Cooking time

50 minutes




For the croûtons

  • 3 thick slices of sourdough bread or ciabatta, crusts discarded and bread torn into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

For the ribollita

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 400g can cannellini, borlotti or haricot beans
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 200g kale, woody stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper

For the pesto

  • 40g basil leaves
  • 30g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


This thrifty Italian soup combines leftovers into a new meal. Traditionally, stale bread was added as a bulker, but can get a bit mushy – I’d rather have the texture of a crispy croûton.

My speedy pesto does away with the pestle and mortar. Think of it less as a paste, more as a pesto-esque garnish.

To make the croûtons, preheat the oven to 200˚C (Gas Mark 6). Toss the bread with oil and salt on a shallow baking tray.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, turning halfway, until golden and crisp. (These can be stored in an airtight container.)

For the ribollita, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.

Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook gently over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until starting to soften.

Add the garlic, rosemary and bay leaf to the saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes more, then stir in the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, vinegar, beans and stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir the kale into the stew and cook gently for a further 20 minutes.

While the soup cooks, place the basil leaves on a chopping board with the pine nuts, garlic and lemon zest. Chop everything together until you have a crumbly green pile.

Place it in a bowl and stir in the oil.

When the soup is cooked, taste and tweak the seasoning to your liking. Serve with a tumble of croûtons and plenty of pesto on top.

Dirty Vegan

Dirty Vegan by Matt Pritchard is published by Mitchell Beazley, £20. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan is on BBC One Wales and available on BBC iPlayer in January 2019.

Visit our soup section for more delicious recipe ideas


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.