Healthy International Recipe: Serbian Vegetable Soup
June 11, 2014
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

This earthy, simple, hearty soup draws its roots from the Serbian lower class, but its bright, layered flavors make it a modern favorite with no socioeconomic bounds. This healthier version of the traditional soup is no less nostalgic or comforting. By removing the starchy noodles and heavy sausage, and adding in more fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, the calorie count goes down while the health benefits go way up. Don’t worry, you’ll still get some of that deep meaty flavor from the bacon. Ever flexible, feel free to adapt this recipe, using whatever combination of vegetables you have on hand. And with a few simple steps, this soup can be made from start to finish in 30 minutes; ideal for a weeknight family dinner everyone will enjoy.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 cups white beans, cooked
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen garden peas
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste (use whatever hard, sharp cheese you have on hand)
  • A squeeze of lemon, to taste (optional)


  • Heat the oil in a large, deep pot, and fry the bacon, onions, and leeks over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to caramelize.
  • Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, chicken stock, and paprika, and stir to combine. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the beans, peas, and spinach, and stir well to combine.
  • Add salt and pepper, and adjust the seasoning to taste, cooking for a few more minutes to make sure everything is warmed through and the spinach wilts.
  • Stir in the parsley, squeeze in a bit of lemon, and serve ladled into soup bowls, topped with garnish with freshly grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: