No-Noodle Minestrone Soup
Growing up, my mom’s Minestrone Soup was something that we always looked forward to. It made the house smell like bacon and the end result it so hearty, delicious and satisfying.
What I didn’t realize until years later though is how healthy it actually is!
Aside from the few pieces of bacon that you saute at the beginning for smokiness and a depth of flavor, the rest of the soup is built up from the bottom on a base of vegetables, beans and stock. With just a dash of seasoning, the whole soup is really just a celebration of vegetables.
Now my mom always made hers with elbow macaroni stirred in at the end, but in an effort to keep it even lighter, I opted to bulk up the soup with even more vegetables (especially the cabbage) to make it like more of a veggie stew. Having recently made a number of dishes that let cabbage hang out in place of noodles, I knew that it would do the trick!
And oh boy, does it! This No-Noodle Minestrone Soup turns out simultaneously light and hearty. Plus leaving out the noodles gives you every excuse to dunk in a big hunk of crusty bread or serve it up with a bread and cheese plate!
- 1 cup dried white beans Great Northern
- 4 cups water
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium zucchini quartered and diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 celery diced
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 3-4 cups chicken broth additional as needed.
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage about 1/2 a small cabbage
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Parmesan cheese for serving
Put dried beans in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 1 hour to soften the beans. Drain the beans, then cover with water, about 1/2 inch above the beans, then simmer until tender, about 45 minutes - 1 hour. Add more water if necessary, but do not drain.
In a large stockpot, cook the bacon for 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to a paper towel and set aside. Drain off most of the bacon fat leaving 1-2 tablespoons. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add in the diced zucchini, carrots and celery and continue cooking for 10 minutes until softened.
Add in the tomato paste, frozen vegetables and 2 cups of chicken broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coarsely chopped cabbage with another cup of chicken broth and cook 10 minutes longer.
Add beans with their cooking water to the stockpot and gently stir to blend. Add more stock if needed, but the soup should be thick. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and parsley and finish cooking another 5-10 minutes.
Crumble or chop the bacon into small bits, then serve the soup in wide bowls topped with the crumbled bacon and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread.