Minestrone Soup – Paleo, Whole 30

Soup, my goodness how I love a good bowl of soup and this is one of my favorites!  My mother-in-law gave this recipe to me years ago and until I went digital, it was the most stained and ragged little index card you ever did see.  That, by the way, is how you know that there is magic written on that recipe card!  You know what I am talking about.

I filmed myself while I made this recently and I have tried to make it into a video, but holy moly, my brain does not work that way!  I’ll get it started but then something goes screwy and I spend the next 4 hours trying to solve the problem.  It’s ridiculous y’all but I’ll get it figured out and post it once I do.  In the meantime, I wanted you to have this recipe so you could make it while it is still cold outside and the perfect soup weather!  I don’t know about you, but once the temperature outside is anywhere near 70 degrees, soup just doens’t sound very appealing.  But when it is cold and raining, which is how our winter is going here in Tennessee, that is perfect weather for curling up with a piping hot bowl of soupy goodness!

This soup does have bacon so it is not entirely vegetable-based.  It also has chicken bone broth but you could always omit the bacon and use vegetable broth, but then it wouldn’t be my MIL’s soup.  You do you.  She was always very liberal with the exact vegetables she used and so am I.  If you look at the recipe I put various options and ratios in parentheses.  I use making this soup as a great way to clear out any vegetables that may be slightly past their prime.  You know the ones, you don’t exactly want to eat them raw or serve them as a side dish, but cooking until soft in a soup is a perfectly great idea for those beauties.  Just pay attention to the MAX line if you are using an InstantPot.  I always stay at least 2 cups below.

Feel free to jump to the recipe below, but I’m going to drop some knowledge on why this soup is so awesome first.  First of all, do you eat all 9 servings of veggies you are supposed to every day?  What?! (imagine my shocked expression) Not many of us do.  Vegetable soup is a wonderfully delicious way to get in several servings of veggies.  Phytonutrients? check. Fiber? check. Collagen? check!  What, you didn’t know that collagen is AMAZING for you?  Besides being super important for skin elasticity and joint health, collagen plays a role in repairing your gut lining (ever heard of leaky gut?), it can boost the efficiency of your liver which in turns helps you flush toxins out of your system and it can rev up your metabolism by helping build lean muscle mass!  But wait, I didn’t list collagen as an ingredient!  Yes I did, it is hidden in the bone broth!  That is why looking for a high-quality bone broth is so important.  You could use stock or broth but those are made with the meat and not the bones which is where the collagen is located.   With that being said, bone broth is quite a bit more expensive, so as always – buy the very best ingredients you can.  Read labels, if you can’t pronounce it, it is not food.  Put it back on the shelf.  I used to buy dried beans and cook them in big batches to freeze in recipe friendly amounts because 1. it’s cheaper that way and 2. I didn’t live near a grocery store that carried a brand with a label that didn’t have preservatives and other words I couldn’t pronounce.  Times have changed rapidly and it is easy to find clean canned goods at a good price.  Just read to make sure.  And lastly, I forgot to add this when I made the video, but if you or your family likes parmesean cheese – save the rind!  Yes, really! It’s a wonderful way to add that 5th flavor – unami, look it up if you are unfamiliar.  We always have a hunk of parm in the fridge and when it’s finished, I freeze the rind for soups.  If you don’t eat parm that way, your grocery store may sell the rinds to you.  I sometimes see them in bags next to the hunks of fresh cheese.  While not necessary, it does add an extra layer of goodness.  Please note:  adding this rind technically makes this NOT PALEO or WHOLE30.  

Now on to the recipe!

MINESTRONE SOUP

Servings 8-10/prep time: 30 min/cook time: 30 min

INGREDIENTS

5 strips of bacon – chopped

1 onion – diced

3 garlic cloves – diced

2 cups celery – diced (5-6 medium stalks)

1 cup carrots – diced (2 medium carrots)

½ small cabbage – chopped (2 handfuls coleslaw mix)

½ small cauliflower – chopped (2 cups pre chopped from a bag)

1 zucchini – diced

1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

2 16 oz. cans of kidney beans

2 16 oz cans of garbanzo beans

2 cups of bone broth – I use chicken

1 parmesean cheese rind – not necessary but gives the soup an added layer of yumminess, also will render this soup not paleo or whole30 if you are following a strict protocol.

DIRECTIONS

Instant Pot directions:

  1. Chop everything and have it ready to go.
  2. Press ‘sauté’ on the IP and once hot add the bacon. Once it has rendered most of the fat and is starting to brown, begin adding in the other ingredients.  Stir and let each addition soften before adding in the next. 
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, seasoning, half the beans and all the broth. Give everything a good stir.  If there is room, add more of your beans until you reach between 10-12 cups on the side of the inner liner.  Do not go all the way to ‘max’ when working with something that is very liquid like soup.
  4. Press ‘cancel’ then place the lid on top and secure. Make sure the knob on top is in the ‘sealing’ position.  Press ‘manual’ and press the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ buttons until 5 minutes is on the display.
  5. Once the IP is finished coming to pressure and finished cooking, press ‘cancel’. Let the pressure come down naturally, or after a few minutes flip the knob to the ‘venting’ position. Make sure your arm is covered and away from the direction of the steam.
  6. After it has come off pressure you can remove the lid and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Slow Cooker (6 quart or larger) directions:

  1. Fry the bacon in a skillet until the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to get crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to move the bacon to the cooker leaving the bacon fat in the skillet.
  2. Sauté the onions until translucent and then add the garlic sautéing for a 1-2 minutes more, then transfer the onions and garlic to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and give it a good stir.
  4. Set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  5. Once the soup is done and the veggies are tender, adjust your seasonings and serve.

Stovetop directions:

  1. Over medium heat, fry the bacon until it is just beginning to get crispy.
  2. Add each ingredient in order, stirring and giving each one time to soften and cook down a little before adding the next.
  3. Once you get to the tomato products, increase the heat to medium high/high and add each one. Give everything a good stir and let it come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cover the soup pot and reduce the heat to low or wherever a pot that size will simmer on your stove.  
  4. Let simmer for 60-90 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Adjust your seasonings and serve.