Is it possible to make minestrone even more healthy?
Everyone enjoys the comforting flavor of warming, nutritious minestrone soup. This Italian favorite is traditionally made with whatever families have on hand, combining vegetables, beans, and pasta in one satisfying bowl. Those of us who enjoyed minestrone made by our mothers or grandmothers at the end of a cold day no doubt still appreciate the ways in which this soup warms, satiates, and brings back memories of childhood.
We’ve taken traditional minestrone recipes and have turned this classic into a healthy soup dish that contains all of the comfort and warmth you associate with minestrone, with additional health benefits that allow you to watch your waistline and keep your energy levels high. We’ve substituted pearled barley for pasta, which boosts this dish’s fiber content and gives you sustained energy throughout your day. Barley is a excellent substitute for refined, white grains and pastas, with its high fiber and nutty flavor.
In our version, we’ve used zucchini, tomatoes, celery, swiss chard, green beans, and cabbage for a soup that is bursting with superfood veggies and their fiber content, antioxidant powers, and vitamins and minerals. You may have other veggies on hand depending on your location, season, or what you may have received as a part of your CSA. Feel free to make substitutions to this Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone, and throw any healthy veggies into this soup for a tasty, healthy lunch or dinner the whole family will enjoy.
Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone
- 1/4 cup pearl barley
- 6 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth, low-sodium preferred
- 2 zucchini diced
- 1 onion medium, finely chopped
- 1 potato big, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1/2 pound swiss chard tough stalks removed and diced (8 ounces)
- 2 carrots medium, diced
- 2 tomatoes medium, diced
- 4 ounces green beans chopped
- 4 ounces cabbage chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 cup basil finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated (more if desired)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse the barley and put them in a saucepan with the vegetable broth. Add all the vegetables except the parsley and basil.
- Over medium heat, let the soup boil then simmer on low heat for 1-1/2 hours. While cooking, stir occasionally to avoid the vegetables from sticking at the bottom of the saucepan.
- Add the parsley and basil in the middle of cooking then season with salt and pepper.
- When it is cooked, turn off the fire then add the Parmesan (amount depends on you) and drizzle with fresh extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve while hot.
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