Home FOOD Italian Pancetta Bean Cabbage Soup Recipe

Italian Pancetta Bean Cabbage Soup Recipe

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This Italian pancetta, bean and cabbage soup is hearty and flavorful with the rich savory taste of pancetta combined with the wholesome goodness of beans and earthy cabbage. It’s a comforting soup that is perfect for a chilly day!

 

Love cooking with cabbage? Try my favorite unstuffed cabbage rolls next! 

Whether it is Italian beef and potato stew or pasta e fagioli, there is something so comforting about a well-balanced bowl of soup when there is a chill in the air. 

This Italian pancetta, bean and cabbage soup is a family favorite! It has incredible flavor and texture plus is simple to make and ready to serve in just over an hour.

From the hearty potatoes to the smoky pancetta, tender beans and the crunchy cabbage all then simmered in a perfectly seasoned tomato-based broth, this nutritious soup is one you are going to love! 

Why You Will Love This Italian Cabbage Soup

  • Wholesome: While this isn’t a diet soup, it is made with wholesome and healthy ingredients that make you feel good all over!
  • Simple ingredients: Like many soups, this bean and cabbage soup is made with simple ingredients you might already have on hand!
  • Easy to make: This hearty winter soup is quick and easy to make with only 20 minutes prep time. Then it’s hands off while the Italian bean and cabbage soup simmers! 
  • Comforting: During chilly winter weather or cold spring days, a hearty Italian cabbage soup with bacon is the best form of comfort food! 

Recipe Ingredients

  • Olive oil: This is needed to saute the pancetta. I love to use extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Pancetta: You can also use bacon. Bacon and cabbage is a lovely combination of flavors!
  • Cabbage: Any type of cabbage works, although I prefer green cabbage. Red cabbage will add a different color to the soup but still be delicious.
  • Potato: I love to use a Russet potato, but a red potato or yellow potato would work. 
  • Onion: An aromatic that adds additional savory flavor. 
  • Celery: Adds additional earthy taste. 
  • Tomato puree: Also called passata or tomato sauce. 
  • Vegetable broth: Homemade or store bought is fine to use. Chicken broth also works.
  •  Beans: Use 2 cups of canned borlotti beans or pinto cranberry beans, drained and rinsed. Dried beans will work but will need to be soaked first, personally I always use dried beans.
  • Salt: Enhances the taste of the soup. You may need more or less depending on the saltiness of your broth. 
  • Pepper: I love to add hot pepper flakes for a bit of spice but you can use ground black pepper. 
  • Cumin: Adds to the earthy flavor of the cabbage soup with bacon! 
Ingredients for the recipe.

How To Soak Dry Beans

In a large bowl add the dried beans, cover the beans well with water. Let them sit for about 8 hours or overnight, then drain and cook until tender, but not mushy.

Substitutions And Variations

  • Bacon: This is a common substitution for pancetta and makes a delicious bacon and cabbage soup that still retains a salty and savory element.
  • Cabbage soup with sausage: I love to use my homemade Italian sausage when I am out of pancetta. The sausage will need to be cooked and crumbled first before adding it to the soup. 
  • Creamy: If you love your cabbage soup with bacon and potatoes even creamier, stir in ½ cup heavy cream at the end before serving.
  • Spices: If you don’t like cumin you can substitute it with coriander, chipotle or smoked paprika. Italian seasoning would also be great! 
  • Type of beans: I love to use Borlotti beans or pinto cranberry beans. You could use white beans like cannellini beans or white kidney beans. 
  • Dried beans: If using dried beans, use 3/4 cup dried beans soaked overnight in water then drained. The soup will take longer to cook if using dried beans.

How To Make Italian Pancetta Bean And Cabbage Soup

To start, in a large pot or Dutch oven add the olive oil and chopped pancetta. Sauté until crispy and slightly browned.

Cooking the pancetta/bacon in a pan.

Add onions, then cabbate then remaining ingredients. Stir to combine then bring to a boil.

Adding the remaining ingredients to the pot and cooking.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the beans and potatoes are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Two bowls of soup and a slices of bread.

How To Make Homemade Broth

In a large pot add a few pieces of meat or chicken (bone in is also a good idea) or as I did for this recipe I used only vegetables, a carrot and an onion peeled and cut in half, a celery stalk cut in two, a bay leaf, 2-3 pepper corns, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt and 12 cups of water. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about three hours. Stir occasionally and remove any foam that appears on the top of the broth. Pour the broth through a sieve, and let the liquid cool before using.

Any unused broth can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days. It can also be frozen in freezer safe containers and will keep for up to 6 months.

If you prefer you can always use store bought broth, just be careful about adding the salt, store bought can be very salty and especially with the addition of pancetta. It would be best to make the soup and taste for salt after it is cooked.

Serving Suggestions

While this soup is a hearty meal in itself, I love to serve it with fresh homemade crusty Italian bread. Other favorite sides include the following:

Soup on a ladle.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use pre-shredded cabbage?

Yes! Pre-shredded cabbage is a great time saver and will get this bean and cabbage soup into the pot to simmer even quicker. 

Can I make this a Vegetarian or Vegan cabbage soup?

Yes, this bean and cabbage soup is very flexible. Just omit the pancetta and your soup is naturally vegan-friendly. I would suggest adding some smoked paprika and a pinch more of salt to replace the savory taste that would have come from the bacon. 

What is a good substitute for tomato puree?

Blended canned whole tomatoes can be used as a substitute for tomato puree.

How To Store Leftover Soup?

Store leftover soup in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in a small pan on the stovetop until warmed through. 

Can I Freeze Leftover Soup?

Yes! Cool soup completely then store it in an airtight container for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat on the stove top until desired temperature is reached.

More Soup Recipes To Try

Soup in a white bowl.

This Pancetta, Bean and Cabbage Soup is the perfect comfort food soup, just what you need in these colder months. Buon Appetito!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup pancetta/bacon (chopped)
  • cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 large potato (peeled and medium diced)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup tomato puree (passata)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 cups borlotti beans (drained and rinsed) (or pinto cranberry beans)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt*
  • 1-2 dashes hot pepper flakes or black pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin **
  • 4 cups water

*Depending how salty your broth is you may need more or less salt.

** If you don’t like cumin you can substitute with coriander, chipotle or smoked paprika.

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In a large pot add the olive oil and chopped pancetta, let brown slightly.

  • Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for approximately 30-75 minutes (this will depend on whether you use canned or dried beans) or until the beans and potatoes are tender. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust if necessary. Serve with crusty Italian bread if desired.  Enjoy!

If using dried beans – In a large bowl add the dried beans, cover the beans well with water. Let them sit for about 8 hours or overnight, then drain and cook until tender, but not mushy. If using canned beans it won’t take as long to cook.
Store leftover soup in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in a small pan on the stovetop until warmed through. 
To freeze the soup, cool it completely then store it in an airtight container for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat on the stove top until desired temperature is reached.

Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 984mg | Potassium: 660mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 780IU | Vitamin C: 20.9mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 3.4mg

Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from March 6, 2017.

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