Vegetarian Minestrone Soup


Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
The best classic, hearty Italian soup with tomatoes, red beans, vegetables & barley – instead of pasta -.




I still like my old cooking book. Even though these recipes could be tagged under the “Not-So-Healthy” options, they had been my faves.  Is there anything that could be done to rescue them using the right substitutes, I wondered. While remaining positive, prevails the doubt if my family would actually like the healthy style. This was a challenge for me but at the same time an opportunity to have a lot of fun.

The Minestrone Soup has three particular ingredients which make it different from traditional vegetable soups: Short pasta, pancetta & basil.  Pasta is high on carbs, pancetta is Italian bacon saturated with fats and sodium. By medical recommendation we should avoid consuming them, so here is where the party begins looking for the adequate replacements. My husband said that changing those ingredients would make a different recipe: A super-deli vegetable soup but not the Minestrone. Despite his encouraging comments, I decided to name it the vegetarian version of the Minestrone Soup.


A couple of years ago, I discovered this whole grain called “barley” with an interesting chewy, pasta-like consistency that makes the times for “risotto” (an Italian dish of rice) in many recipes. Barley is an outstanding food source for dietary fiber, selenium, and tryptophan, niacin, manganese, copper, and phosphorus. At 270 calories per cup, barley is a low-calorie food.  I have used the “pearled barley,” which is more common and what most grocers sell. The amount of protein pack on this cereal goes way beyond the commercial pasta making it something worth trying.

After doing some research on the vegetarian substitutes for the Italian bacon (pancetta), I found that sauté mushrooms slices add the “umami” flavor that process meat provides to some dishes. Interesting, isn´t it? Let me tell you I finally put hands on the recipe with an extreme success, so  I encourage you to give it a shot.  Check for yourself how it is possible to enjoy of all the Italian flavors on this broth ….. without pasta!


Prep time: 20 min.  Cook time: 1 hr

YIELD: 6 – 8 portions


  • 2 large carrots, diced.
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced.
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh chives.
  • 1 medium potato, diced.
  • 1 lb. of mushrooms, sliced.
  • 3 handfuls fresh Baby spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 6 c. of chicken broth or vegetable stock – low sodium (if you prefer, you can use homemade chicken broth). For vegetarians, use vegetable stock.
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced.
  • 1 can of Red Kidney Beans (16 oz) or 2 c. of the homemade kidney beans.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves ó 1/2 tsp. of dried basil.
  • 1/2 c. of pearled barley  *(you can use 1 c. of short pasta if you prefer)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed.
  • 2 Tbsp. of avocado oil.


  1. Warm the avocado oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, sauté the sliced mushrooms until lightly browned.
  2. Add the white onion,  garlic, and the chives stirring often, until the mushrooms have softened and the onions are turning translucent. (See picture A)
  3. Add the celery, potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Cook them stirring constantly until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. (See picture B)
  4. Add the kidney beans, broth and tomato paste to the pot. Cover and bring to boil. Let it simmer for 20 minutes approx.  (See picture C)
  5. Add the spinach, barley and basil leaves. Season it with salt and pepper. (See picture D)
  6. Simmer until vegetables and barley are tender, about 30 minutes approx.  (See picture E)
  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Picture A
Picture B
Picture C
Picture D
Picture E
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

*Pearl barley:  It is the most common form of barley. It’s still chewy and nutritious, but less so than hulled barley because the outer husk and bran layers have been removed. The polished grains are also softer and take less time to cook about 40 minutes.


Sopa Minestrone (1)





Sweet Potato Creamy Soup

Sweet Potato Creamy Soup (1)
By medical recommendation, we have to avoid consuming potatoes on regular basis. Does that make these tubers unhealthy? Not at all! But it sounded sad. :/ The main reason the doctor gave us is that potatoes are included on the list of high starchy foods which may increase any liver damage.  (You can read more about it in this article: “Starchy diet may damage liver”).
I need to admit how hard it was at the beginning trying to live without them until, after an extensive research and consideration, I realized that sweet potatoes could be a potential option for us if consumed in moderation and cooked properly. 🙂


“Sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch. In one medium spud, there is over 400 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement.”  – Megan Ware rdn ld. (Medical news today, sep .2017)
The amount of beta-carotene contained in a portion of sweet potatoes is 23 times than the amount contained on a portion of broccoli.  Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, which may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, works as a hepatoprotective reducing inflammation & helps on the diabetes management. Doesn´t it sound impressive to give it a try?  So here I am having a lot of fun in the kitchen with this tuber!
This sweet potato creamy soup recipe also includes some warming spices making it a perfect winter meal, even though, we like to enjoy at home all around the year!

ONE FINAL NOTE:  Always keep the skin on! A sweet potatoes skin contributes significant amounts of fiber, potassium, and quercetin. Make sure you don´t peel it off,




  • 1/2  medium onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped.
  • 1 Tbsp. of fresh thyme / or 1/2 tsp. of dry thyme
  • 6 c. of chicken broth -or vegetable broth– (I love using this organic low-sodium option)
  • 2 ripe yet very firm Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & quartered.
  • 3/4 c. of chopped celery.
  • 2 large carrots peeled and chopped.
  • 2 large chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 c. of whipping cream low-fat (or greek yogurt if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp. of avocado oil.
  • 1 tsp. of organic turmeric powder
  • 1/8 tsp of nutmeg ground
  • 1 tsp. of raw honey.
  • 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice (one half lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. of sea salt.
  • 1/4 tsp. of pepper
  • Avocado slices to garnish


1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic and turmeric. Cook 2 more minutes, until fragrant.

3. Stir in chicken broth, sweet potatoes, pears, thyme & raw honey. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. (Sweet potatoes should be very tender.)

4. Using a blender, stick blender, or food processor, purée mixture (in batches, if necessary). Return mixture to the pot. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg & whipping cream. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

5. Mix the creamy soup and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it stand for 5 minutes more.

6. Serve it using avocado slices to garnish. Bon appétite!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Recommended articles about sweet potatoes benefits:

What´s to know about sweet potatoes?

Sweet Potatoes vs. Potatoes.