Italian Peasant Soup: hearty low calorie (and inexpensive) but high nutrition soup filled with veggies and beans!

Italian Peasant Soup (Hearty Vegetable Soup)

This super hearty vegetable soup is LOADED with goodness at every turn.  It is the perfect healthy spring soup to transition into warmer weather with a bright vibrant punch of basil and fresh spinach added at the end.  This makes a lot of soup (we like a big batch as it's ideal for week-day lunches), cut the recipe in half if you're making it for a smaller crew.

Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Keyword soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Fraiche Nutrition

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • cups finely diced celery (2 stalks)
  • cups finely diced peeled carrots (2 to 3 carrots)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel (1 medium bulb)
  • cups diced zucchini (1 small zucchini)
  • cups peeled yellow potato cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 can 28 ounces/796 mL diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons 45 mL tomato paste
  • 4 litres vegetable stock plus extra to thin if desired
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups 1 L loosely packed fresh baby spinach (see Tip)
  • 2 cups 500 mL cooked small pasta such as shells or macaroni (see Tip) (optional)
  • 1 cup 250 mL loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large can (19 oz/540ml) white or red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • thick slices of focaccia or baguette brushed with olive oil, toasted or grilled, and rubbed with garlic, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until fragrant and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage and fennel and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the zucchini, potato, diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pasta (if using), basil, and kidney beans and simmer until the beans are heated through. Add the spinach, remove from the heat and stir until the spinach has wilted. Remove the bay leaves and add extra stock if a thinner consistency is desired. Season well with salt and pepper.

  5. Divide the soup among bowls and serve with toasted focaccia or baguette, if desired.  The soup will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

Tip If you’re making the soup ahead, don’t add the spinach until just before serving after it's reheated on the stove-top.

To make this gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta or leave it out. Serve with gluten-free bread or skip it.