Healthy Recipe: Pasta e Faglioli Soup

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A regular feature in Life to the Fullest is a recipe featuring ingredients that can enhance health and well-being during and after cancer treatment. The following recipe comes from clinical nutrition specialist Brian Higginson, R.D., C.D., who teaches classes at the Swedish Cancer Institute and works with patients who are dealing with cancer. Higginson's goal is to assist people in identifying foods that may help in:

  • Reducing the risk of cancer recurrence
  • Dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment
  • Maximizing nutritional status when going through cancer treatment

Pasta e Fagioli Soup meets these health-enhancing goals and will be a welcome addition to any menu, especially during the chilly days of fall and winter. Learn more about the recipe's ingredients, and some of its health benefits, by reading the information at the end of the article.

Pasta e Faglioli Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups white cannelloni beans
1 large tomato, chopped
8 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped fresh basil, or 1/4 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup dry elbow macaroni or other small pasta
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
(Note: Consider using organic ingredients, where available)

  • Place a stockpot over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the onion, celery and carrots for 5 minutes or until the onion turns translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Add the beans, tomato, stock and the herbs (except for the parsley). Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, turn the heat back down.
  • Remove approximately ½ of the vegetable mixture from the soup and place it in a blender or food processor. Be sure not to place the bay leaves in the blender. Blend until smooth. Return the blended mix back into the soup.
  • Add the pasta and return to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Serve in bowls, garnished with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings, approximately 2 cups each. Each serving provides: 213 calories, 9 grams of protein, 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 10 grams of total fiber, 2.3 grams of soluble fiber, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 263 milligrams of sodium.

Some of the ingredients in this recipe provide benefits that may help in cancer risk-reduction. These include:

Carrots, which are a source of beta-carotene (vitamin A), an antioxidant vitamin that can neutralize free radicals, which are thought to damage cell membranes and potentially contribute to the development of cancer.

Tomato, which is a source of lycopene, another antioxidant thought to decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Levels of lycopene increase when food is cooked, so cooking a tomato actually gives you more of the antioxidant.

Beans and whole-wheat pasta, which are great sources of fiber, including soluble fiber. Higher fiber diets have been linked to lower rates of cancer across the board, especially with gastrointestinal/colon cancer. High fiber foods also make you feel full faster, which helps with weight control by decreasing total calorie intake.

As a whole, this recipe is very low in fat, especially saturated fat. Many studies suggest that limited intake of foods containing saturated fats decrease overall risk of cancer, especially hormone-related cancers (breast, prostate) and colon cancer.