Grandma’s Minestrone Soup recipe is my Italian grandma’s recipe. My Mum gave it to me years ago when I left home so I would eat, and it became my go-to during chemo. As kids we used to call it Jungle Soup because of all the veggies in it, including the cancer fighting cruciferous cabbage, and we loved it. Grandma always used fresh borlotti beans from her garden, but canned are fine. I like to use less water for a really thick soup, more like a stew but you can add stock or water to taste. In Italy, this type of soup is often eaten at room temperature in the summertime. You can top it with fresh basil then leave it to cool down before it is eaten. If you are using soup that’s been stored in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature before serving it. Click here for the video!
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and pancetta, if using, and fry until turning to a light gold.
2. Add onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, and bay leaf. Cover and turn down the heat to medium low to sweat the vegetables until they begin to soften. Stir occasionally.
3. When the vegetables are soft, mix in the cabbage (See note). Cover and sweat for another 5 minutes or until the cabbage begins to soften.
4. Remove lid and turn the heat up to medium high. Mix in the tomatoes and cook until the tomato takes on an orangey color (if using paste, take care it doesn’t burn). Add the parsley and stock or water. Bring to boil, cover, then turn down to simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, then add the beans. If home cooked add the liquid too. Bring to a simmer again and add the pasta. Adjust seasoning.
5. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is done. Discard bay leaf and parsley. Add in the chopped basil and grind a little black pepper on top. Serve with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil.
For more hearty soup ideas, check out our Healthy Survivorship Soups.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 stalk celery, cut into ½-inch slices
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large ½-inch dice
- 1 bay leaf, broken
- ½ head of Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 (14-ounce) can chopped Italian plum tomatoes
- 3 sprigs flat leaf parsley
- 6 cups of stock or water, or to taste
- 1 (14-ounce) can of low sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained (See Ann’s Tips)
- 2 ounces of whole wheat pasta (elbows, ziti or penne)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons of roughly chopped basil leaves (In the winter, see Ann’s Tips)
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Beans: It’s OK to use cannellini, pinto or navy beans instead of kidney beans. Whatever you use, always drain and rinse canned beans before using, even for soups. If you use home cooked beans like our Basic White Beans you don’t need to drain or rinse them. The broth is low sodium and adds to the flavor. If you use fresh beans, add them with the cabbage in step 3.
If you have the rind of a piece of Parmesan cheese handy, throw it into the soup at step 5 for extra flavor.
In the winter, fresh basil can be hard to find or expensive. Substitute 1 tablespoon of jar pesto.
Also you can use ¼ cup tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes.
If you are having oral problems such as cankers or post radiation dryness, leave out the pasta and puree this delicious soup for easier swallowing. Just whizz a couple of cupfuls in a blender with a little extra stock or some water. Let the soup cool somewhat before eating.