Food & Drink

Recipes: Niall McKenna's souper stars – French Onion Soup and classic Italian Ribollita Soup

Niall McKenna's Ribollita Soup
Niall McKenna's Ribollita Soup Niall McKenna's Ribollita Soup

I love this time of year, when the temperature drops, simply for the warm bowls of soup at lunch and teatime. Being so easy to cook is a bonus too – all you have to do is use up the leftover vegetables in the fridge.

The first of this week’s recipes is Ribolatta, which is an Italian farmhouse soup. The second, French Onion soup, is one that we’ve managed to perfect over the years in our restaurants. It’s definitely a firm favourite of mine.

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Ribollita Soup


(Serves 4)

2 tbsp of olive oil, plus extra for garnish

1 onion, finely diced

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

3 scallions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 sprig rosemary, destalked

1 can chopped tomatoes (400g)

500ml vegetable stock

1 can cannellini beans, drained

200g kale, chopped with woody stalk removed

100g bread, best if it is stale and chopped

50g Parmesan, grated


Begin by heating the oil on a medium heat in a heavy bottom pot with a lid.

Add in the onion, celery and carrot along with a pinch of salt. Then add the garlic and chilli flakes, cooking for one minute.

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Next, add in the rosemary, tomatoes, vegetable stock and beans, bringing to a simmer. Once simmering, add the kale, placing the lid on to allow to cook for a further 10 minutes.

Finally, add in the bread, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

French Onion Soup

Niall McKenna's French Onion Soup
Niall McKenna's French Onion Soup Niall McKenna's French Onion Soup


(Serves 4)

50g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1kg white onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1 tsp of sugar

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp plain flour

250ml white wine, dry is recommended

1.2 litres chicken stock

2 slices of baguette

140g Gruyère cheese, grated


To begin, add the olive oil and butter to a heavy bottom pot to melt. Once melted, add in the chopped onions, coating in oil. Place the lid on and cook on a medium heat to cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid to add in the sugar and stir. Cook for a further 15 minutes until the onions are caramelised. Then add in the cloves of garlic and plain flower, continuing to stir.

Next, add in the wine, increasing the heat until the wine has reduced. Once reduced, add in the chicken stock before placing the lid back on and reducing to a simmer for a further 15 minutes of cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make up the bread, toast the old bread on both sides under the grill, topping with cheese to melt.

When ready to eat, ladle out the soup into bowls, topping with the cheesy toast.


Waterman House Cookery School,

Waterman House,

5-23 Hill Street,



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