Cannellini Vegetable Soup

This is the vegetable soup my Nonna created. It is based loosely on a northern Italian recipe. This recipe is very flexible — add or omit based on what you have in the fridge!

Total Time: 1:15


  • Soup
    • Barley
    • 1 onion
    • 3 carrots
    • Handful frozen corn and/or peas (optional)
    • 3 sticks celery
    • Handful chopped spinach
    • 540 g (19 oz) can Cannellini beans
    • 1 large Russet potato
    • Tomato paste
    • 1 small green zucchini
    • 1 small yellow zucchini
    • 80 mL olive oil
    • 1 packet Lipton Noodle Soup Mix (Vegan substitute: 2-3 vegan chicken flavor bouillon cubes, ground cumin to taste, thin spaghetti ripped to pieces ~1-3 cm length)
  • Meatballs (optional)
    • 0.5 kg (1/4 lb) ground beef
    • Salt, Pepper
    • Minced garlic
    • 1-1.5 eggs
    • Bread crumbs
    • Parsley
    • Broth

The Soup

While cooking, stir occasionally and add water as necessary to keep the vegetables just covered.

  • Put about 2 cm of water in a pot on medium heat
  • Add the barley
  • Wait ~40 minutes to let the barley cook a bit
  • Add 1 chopped onion
  • Add 3 chopped carrots
  • Add a handful of frozen corn and/or peas (optional)
  • Add 3 sticks of chopped celery (including the leaves)
  • Add a healthy handful of chopped spinach
  • Add 1/2 of a 540 g (19 oz) can of Cannellini beans
  • Add 1 large Russet potato, diced
  • Add tomato paste until the broth is pink
  • Add 1 small yellow and 1 small green zucchini, diced
  • Add 80 mL of olive oil
  • For reference, this should be about the 40 minute mark right now.
  • Cook with lid on for about 30 minutes. Make the tiny meatballs in the meantime (if you want them).
  • Add the rest of the can of beans, pureed. You need to stir very frequently once this is added, lest it clump at the bottom.
  • Add 1 bag Lipton Noodle Soup Mix (Vegans: add 2-3 chicken flavor bouillon cubes, ground cumin to taste, and ripped up thin spaghetti)
  • Cook until the noodles are done
  • Add tiny meatballs (optional)
  • Add broth until soup is desired consistency
  • Eat 🙂

Tiny Meatballs

  • 0.5 kg (1/4 lb) ground beef
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1-1.5 eggs
  • Bread crumbs
  • Parsley
  • Form into tiny balls (1-2 cm diameter) and add to simmering broth until cooked. They will float when they are cooked. Wash your hands repeatedly while doing this to keep the meatballs smooth (don’t laugh; this is a serious matter according to Nonna!)
  • Turn off the heat and wait for the appropriate time to add them to the vegetable soup using a perforated spoon.

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