The one thing it definitely has in common with her version is how thick and hearty it is – so much so that a spoon will practically stand up in it - and what a family favorite it is.
I actually got the original recipe for this particular soup from a dear college friend when she served it to us for lunch on a playdate some 2 decades ago, and my kids and I loved it.
It made me wonder why I hadn’t tried to replicate Mom’s beloved version many years earlier. My friend gave me the detailed recipe, and as far as I can recall, I’ve kept it pretty much the same ever since.
This recipe makes a big pot of delicious, nutrition-loaded soup that will have your family practically licking their bowls.
Or, you could cut the recipe in half, if that suits you better.
But since I’m always trying to get as much mileage as possible out of my time spent in the kitchen, I think it makes more sense to make larger quantities.
In my family, with our over-sized appetites, I generally got two meals out of this recipe with no leftovers beyond that. That’s how much my boys loved it.
But I’d also like to say that some types of pasta hold up better than others to sitting in soup broth for long periods of time. I’ve found that elbows tend to disintegrate a bit more by the second day than other pasta types such as rotini, bow ties, or shells.
No matter what you use, it will still taste fine, but might not look quite as nice in the bowls.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 12-16 generous servings
Prep time – Approx. 25 minutes
Start to finish time – Approx. an hour
Total recipe cost – Approx. $9.00
Total per person meal cost with salad and fresh bread – Approx. $1.25
2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
2 large stalks celery
4 large carrots
Small head of cabbage (approximately 1 pound)
1 medium zucchini (or 1 cup frozen, sliced zucchini)
3 28-32 ounce cans diced tomatoes
8-10 cups of water (to taste- start with the smaller amount and see if you want to add more at the end)
2 teaspoons salt
1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
1 can (15-16 ounce) kidney bean
1 can (15-16 ounce) white kidney beans
1 can (15-16 ounce) garbanzo beans
1½ cups of smaller pasta (elbows, bow ties, rotini, or similar)
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Recipe continues after photos.
- Peel and dice the large onion and set it aside on a plate or bowl.
- Wash and coarsely dice the 2 large stalks of celery into pieces about ½-inch in size. Set aside with the onions.
- Scrub or peel the 4 large carrots and cut them into pieces about ¼-½-inch in size. Set aside with the onion and the celery.
- Peel and chop the 3 cloves of garlic and add it to the vegetables.
- Wash and cut the small head of cabbage first into wedges, and then into strips and pieces approximately ½-inch wide and 1-2 inches long to make about 3 cups. A little more or less is fine, too. Set aside separate from the other vegetables.
- Wash the zucchini, cut it into quarter lengths and then crosswise into pieces about ½-inch thick. It will make 1-1½ cups. Set it aside with the cabbage.
- Heat the 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot with a lid over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes, and then add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook the vegetables for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the 8-10 cups of water to the vegetable mix in the pot, along with the 3 cans of diced tomatoes, and the 2 teaspoons of salt. Turn the burner to high and bring the broth to a boil.
- Add the cut-up cabbage and zucchini, and the 10-ounce package of lima beans and resume boiling. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the 1½ cups of pasta and cook until it is tender (6-9 minutes).
- Add the 1 cup of frozen peas and heat through, about 5 minutes.
- Open and add all the beans (1 can each of chick peas, white beans, and red kidney beans), undrained, and stir to distribute them evenly. Heat through for about 5 minutes.
- Serve the soup in large bowls topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired, along with the tossed salad and some fresh bread.