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Lynn Fredricks

Cooking Time is Family Time

Tuscan Bean Soup/Ribollita
From Lynn Fredericks, author: Cooking Time is Family Time
Adapted by

Yield: 4 servings

This is a surprisingly fast and easy version of an age old Italian Tuscan soup, utilizing a nutritious combination of white beans, greens and tomatoes. It can double as a complete meal or a first course. The fresh greens such as kale and broccoli rape are an excellent source of calcium, important to the diet of both children and adults for strong bones! While you can substitute other greens, the bitterness of the broccoli rape provides the ideal flavor balance to the sweetness of the tomatoes. My kids can't get enough of this! While they are never big on leftovers, this is one meal I can serve the next day, or for lunch or dinner on the weekends.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli rape
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 14-ounce cans cannellini (white) beans
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 3 one-half cups chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 16-ounce loaf of Italian or sourdough bread


1. Cut off the ends of the onion and let small children peel it. Smash the garlic with a knife to loosen the skin and let little ones peel it as well. Older children can begin chopping the onion and garlic with your supervision. While the older children are chopping, have little ones help wash and dry the greens. Now they can tear the greens into 2 and one-half inch long pieces and discard the rough stems.

2. In a small pot, bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over low heat, add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, help younger children to open the cans and drain the beans and tomatoes.

3. When the onions are cooked, have the children carefully add the greens in handfuls to the pot. Children, with oven mitts and long-handled wooden spoons, can take turns stirring frequently until the greens wilt, approximately 5 minutes.

4. Now they can pour the beans into the pot. Add the chicken stock, ladling carefully with hands protected by the oven mitt. Then everyone can take turns squishing tomatoes one by one into the pot with clean hands - seeds are guaranteed to fly! Little hands can pluck the thyme leaves from the stem and drop them into the soup. Stir over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. When you are ready to serve, have the children break the bread into small pieces and add as much as desired to the soup. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.


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