Bread Soup Is the Coziest Italian Dish You’ve Never Heard Of

Bread soup? Yes, it's a real thing and it's totally delicious. Read on to learn more about this comforting Tuscan meal.

Some of the best recipes originated from humble beginnings (like the Depression Era). Bread soup, also known as Italian ribollita, is no exception. For centuries, cooks have used bread to stretch leftover soup and make it extra filling.

If this is your first time hearing of bread soup, just think: many of us like to crumble crackers in our soup. It stands to reason that bread and soup are naturals together.

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What Is Bread Soup?

Ribollita is a hearty vegetable stew that originated in the medieval Tuscan countryside. Made with chunks of stale torn bread mixed into leftover vegetable soup, classic bread soup is not a quick meal (but these 30-minute soups are). In fact, it’s a dish that tastes best when prepared over two or three days so the flavors and textures can really blend together. When served, a bowl of this soup tastes and looks like a thick minestrone.

What’s in Bread Soup?

Traditional bread soup almost always begins with a base of stale torn bread, cannellini beans, kale and cabbage. After that, the recipe can include any produce you like, including potatoes, celery, carrots and tomatoes. It’s a “use what you have” recipe that’s both satisfying and timeless. If you hate to throw out leftover veggies, this dish could be the solution.

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Why People Make Bread Soup

Bread soup dates back to the Middle Ages when servants often had to eat the food-soaked bread trenchers (aka edible plates) that remained after their lords and ladies dined. Over time, as wooden plates became the norm, the dish morphed into the stew-like meal we know today.

As peasants cleared their employers’ tables, they would pocket any leftover bread crusts. They’d add them, and whatever else they had on hand, to leftover vegetable soup as it reheated over a fire. Hence, ribollita, which literally translates to “reboiled” in Italian. (Here’s how other iconic foods got their names.)

Try your own spin on bread soup today! Make this ribollita recipe or start with some crusty bread, then add it to a hearty Tuscan stew recipe.

Lauren Habermehl
Lauren is a recipe developer and food photographer. At Taste of Home, you’ll find her putting famous celebrity recipes to the test, from Dolly Parton’s stampede soup to Stanley Tucci’s six-ingredient pasta casserole. She’s also known for her FoodTok finds and sharing tips for how to re-create Internet-famous 15-hour potatoes, apple pie cinnamon rolls and chamoy pickles. When she’s not trying out a recipe-gone-viral, she’s developing copycat recipes and new twists on comfort food for her food blog, Frydae.