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Sardinian Longevity Minestrone

Inspired by the super-healthy, legume- and vegetable-filled minestrone soup enjoyed by the long-living residents of Sardinia, this soup is naturally vegan and perfect for Meatless Mondays. (Now with video!)

Two bowls of Sardinian Minestrone on a serving tray

I recently started reading The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, the book profiling regions of the world where residents routinely live to 100 and beyond. It’s fascinating, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the read.

Now, I don’t necessarily want to live to 100. One standout characteristic of these long-living communities is that residents have very strong, life-long support systems of both family and friends, which, quick frankly, we lack in the US. High school and college friendships often dissolve with miles, as we scatter across the country for careers and different climates.

Sibling and extended family bonds soften for the same reasons. Young families form, and we busyify our lives. By the time we reach an age where we need a little assistance, there’s just a small circle of people who can and are willing to help. Aging in American is stressful all around.

No, I’m not interested in the number, but rather in the quality. And that’s what these Blue Zones seem to share — they live long but are sharp and spry right to the end.

A shot glass with Cannonau red wine

I’m particularly drawn to their diets, which appeal to my basically vegetarian nature. The Sardinian (Italy) and Ikarian (Greece) groups and their Mediterranean meal plans are strongly vegetarian, focusing on legumes and seasonal vegetables, usually picked from their own gardens. And wine. Lots of red wine.

Bitter beverages are not my favorites, but as I’ve aged, my tolerance for them has improved, and I’ve always been intrigued by the claimed health benefits of red wine. When I read about the Sardinian’s love for their native Cannonau wine, I was excited to give it a taste.

To my surprise — I have a love-hate relationship with red wine — a double-shot of Cannonau went down mighty smooth with a bowl of Sardinian minestrone soup one rainy afternoon. I don’t think it’s in the cards to drink wine every afternoon, like the Sardinians do with their long lunches — we ‘burb dwellers have too much driving to do — but I’m happy to have a red wine in my stash that I enjoy (and that might just be very good for me to boot).

Close-up of a spoonful of Sardinian Longevity Minestrone soup

Which brings me to today’s soup. I have to say, I *love* this minestrone soup. Adapted from the Blue Zone’s website, my version of this vegetable-heavy soup contains plenty of flavorful fava beans, Great Northern beans, and a few of my favorite spring veggies, including broccoli stems and fennel.

It also contains a fun little Sardinian pasta called fregula, which is pebble-sized and toasted, giving the pasta a deeper flavor and multi-colored, rustic appearance.

As we transition to warm weather here in the States, I’d like to call out one aspect of this recipe that makes this minestrone soup particularly spring-worthy: it uses water rather than stock.

Don’t get me wrong — stock is awesome (especially home vegetable or chicken stock) and is often the key to a make-or-break winter comfort soup. But using water here creates an unexpected lightness that you don’t normally get from minestrone. The flavor is pure fresh vegetables, and the soup is one I can definitely enjoy even as the thermometer continues its creep upward.

Perfect for Meatless Mondays, this minestrone soup doesn’t weigh me down; it fuels me up!

Serving Suggestions for Sardinian Longevity Minestrone Soup

I made a huge batch of this soup, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch several times last week. The soup is delicious with the pecorino romano cheese, but it’s really something with a fried egg on top. When the yolk breaks into the soup … oh, my guhness. Soup heaven. #putaneggonit

A bowl of Sardinian Minestrone soup served with a fried egg on top

I hope you’ll try and love this healthy, super tasty Sardinian minestrone soup! And if it’s the height of summer and you have an abundance of fresh veggies, try this light and lovely Summer Minestrone!

Karen xo

Sardinian Longevity Minestrone Soup from SoupAddict.com
Print Recipe
4.52 from 39 votes

Sardinian Longevity Minestrone

Inspired by the super-healthy, legume- and vegetable-filled minestrone soup enjoyed by the long-living residents of Sardinia, this soup is naturally vegan and perfect for Meatless Mondays.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion chopped
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 broccoli stalk peeled and chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato peeled and diced (about 1 cups)
  • 1 small fennel bulb chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can fava beans
  • 1 can Great Northern beans
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of fregula or Israeli couscous
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Daiya Smoked Gouda finely grated (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a 5 qt Dutch oven or soup pot set over medium. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, carrots, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and fennel. Saute, stirring frequently, until all of the vegetables are softened.
  • Scootch the vegetables to the side, creating a clear spot and add the tomato paste and garlic to the spot. Stir together until the garlic is fragrant (less than a minute), then mix in with the remaining vegetables.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, and ddd the beans, crushed tomatoes, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat low or medium-low to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  • Add the pasta and a pinch of salt. If the soup is too thick, add another cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes more.
  • Stir in the herbs. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • To serve, spoon into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with the cheese.

Notes

- You can use dried beans instead of canned. Soak the beans overnight (peel the favas, if you prefer them that way), increase cooking time to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Fregula is a small, peppercorn-sized Italian pasta that's dried and toasted (and has a lovely multi-colored hue). If you can't find fregula, substitute the similarly shaped Israeli couscous or another small pasta such as orzo or ditalini.
- Leave off the cheese, and the soup is naturally vegan.
- This soup is awesome the next day, and the day after. Make a lot - you won't regret it!

Recipe Video

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Recipe Rating




San Diego Dave

Tuesday 21st of September 2021

4th time making this in one month So basically eating it every day! My fiancé was blown away and thinks I’m a gourmet chef now , i add those little red and gold potatoes and notice if I sauté for a bit longer (like almost 15 minutes with more garlic and stir continuously) it comes out with just unimaginable flavor. This is good stuff before and after a long day of surfing. I always bring a mini watermelon to the beach and eat it island style (with my hands lol) maybe I’ll pour the soup into the empty watermelon bowl and eat it at the beach too! Anyhow that’s crazy ?. Soup is amazing and makes me want to visit Sardinia soon!

SoupAddict

Tuesday 21st of September 2021

You'd think such a simple soup would be very meh, but this is one of those cases where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I even love this soup for breakfast (because I'm a savory breakfast kind of person).

Doc Dalton

Monday 16th of August 2021

Can you make a lot of this and freeze some

SoupAddict

Monday 16th of August 2021

Oh, absolutely! I think for best thawing results, I would skip the pasta, and add it fresh later (or skip it all together). I actually don't mind soups made with pasta that have been frozen and then thawed, but the texture of the pasta does change. But, the rest of the soup freezes beautifully.

gules

Sunday 15th of August 2021

I just read 2 of the Blue Zones books too and found this recipe because I was inspired by them! I have been wondering, is the fennel super important to the flavor or can I replace it with leeks or something else? I may have an anise allergy and I’m nervous to give fennel a try in case I have a reaction so I’ve been hesitant to try too many of the recipes from the book. Thanks!

SoupAddict

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Leeks would be amazing! Go for it!

Tom

Thursday 12th of August 2021

How would I make this in an instant pot?

Cindy M.

Monday 26th of October 2020

Made this tonight. I used chicken stock instead of water and added crushed red pepper flakes. Delicious!