From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of September 17, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Mediterranean White Bean and Spinach Soup

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

This wonderful soup combines a host of Mediterranean flavors including cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, commonly used in dishes from Tuscany. The balance of beans, vegetables and pasta make this soup warm and satisfying without being over filling.

The popular orange carrot originates from the ancient wild carrot. The first cultivated carrot may have been in Afghanistan around 800 CE. These early carrots included purple and yellow varieties (some of which are appearing in farmers’ markets today). Centuries later the cultivated carrot found its way to Europe where the orange carrot we enjoy today was bred. Carrots are packed with a fat-soluble antioxidant, beta-carotene which you’ll absorb better thanks to the olive oil in this recipe.

The rich red tomatoes and bright green spinach provide more color, flavor and the vitamins A and C. Together with the Italian spices and Parmesan cheese, these vegetables complete the Mediterranean quality of the dish.

For a quick midday or evening meal you could serve the soup with a turkey breast sandwich on 100 percent multigrain bread. If you have extra, this soup makes great leftovers.

Mediterranean Soup

Mediterranean White Bean and Spinach Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced finely
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 (14-oz) can no-salt added diced tomatoes (fresh may be substituted)
  • 1 (14-oz) can no-salt added cannellini beans (any white bean may be substituted)
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • Dash freshly ground pepper
  • Dash red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 oz. small whole-wheat pasta shells
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 tsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic, carrots, and onions until the carrots are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, tomatoes, beans, rosemary, Italian seasoning, and pepper to skillet. Bring to boil.

Add shells and cook 14 minutes. If soup is too thick simply add a bit more stock.

Stir in spinach and continue cooking until wilted.

Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle Parmesan on top.

Makes 6 servings. Per Serving: 1 1/3 cups

Per serving: 199 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 32 g carbohydrate
10 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 85 mg sodium.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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