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Apr 17, 2021

Ticinese Minestrone

This Ticinese minestrone is from the Swiss canton of Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. It's hearty, filling, and nutritious. 

Ticinese Minestrone

While every Ticinese home cook has their version of minestrone, common threads in the recipes seem to include beans, smoked bacon (and bacon rind to flavor the broth), savoy cabbage, sun dried tomatoes, and a combination of arborio rice with potatoes. 

This version also includes onions, garlic, sage, carrots, celery, leeks, and kale. Other recipes I've seen very often include butternut squash, green beans, and pasta to replace the potatoes. 

Ticinese Minestrone soup

This minestrone is so comforting. It's delicious the day that it is made, and is also so good reheated for at least three days. 

Typically, recipes for this soup call for borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans. I didn't have a chance to hunt them down, so I substituted some dried buckeye beans I had on hand. You definitely can use dried canellini beans, pinto beans, or any other legume. 

If you use canned beans, be sure to rinse them and adjust the recipe to add the beans during the last 10 minutes. 

Ticinese Minestrone soup with Savoy cabbage

Top the cooked soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese as well as some freshly chopped flat-leafed parsley. 

This month, the Soup Saturday Swappers are sharing recipes to celebrate your heritage. My heritage is Swiss German (Anabaptists via Germany), Irish, Scottish, and Italian Swiss. Most of my ancestors emigrated to the United States many generations before me, and most of the ties to the "old country" have been lost, with the exception of my grandmother on my dad's side, who was from the little town of Someo, Switzerland, located in the canton of Ticino. 

She emigrated from Switzerland when she was 12 years old, around 1911. She was one of 7 or 8 children, and the family came directly to California via Ellis Island, as did many Ticinese prior to the World Wars. 

I think they settled first in central California and worked in a sugar beet plant, although they were carpenters by trade. Eventually, they moved to San José. 

Family secrets being what they are, I never got to meet the rest of her family. My dad used to talk about how much he loved his uncles and aunts, but for some reason, probably something to do with my grandfather's family who put on "airs" even though they had some pretty dark secrets themselves. 

I do have a recollection of one of my sisters or cousins traveling with my grandmother and possibly visiting her dad. We all got to take trips with her, which was such an amazing treat. 

She really didn't make many recipes from Switzerland. After all, she was preteen when she emigrated. The closest thing I remember her cooking from the "old country" was rabbit. 

For this post, I dug up some photos in my archives of her heritage. So fun. 

Here's a photo of her dad in the Swiss Army. 

Swiss army soldier

Here's a photo of my grandmother with some of her brothers and sisters after arriving in California. 

My dad's beloved Uncle Dan is on the right. He became a carpenter and helped build my dad's childhood home. My grandmother is on the left. 

Italian Swiss immigrant children

At one point, all of the families got together for my grandmother's and grandfather's wedding. 

I'm kind of sad that I never met any of these folks. My grandfather died at an early age, and our only connection was his sister who stayed in touch with my grandmother. My grandmother was so tight-lipped and had many secrets I would have loved to have known. Still, there was no one I respected and loved more growing up than her. 

Italian Swiss immigrant wedding

When my dad finally began to embrace traveling, one of his trips was to visit his mother's birthplace of Someo, Switzerland. 

During that trip, he met one of his distant relatives, Claudio (on the right). Can you see the resemblance? I do. 

Ticinese family reunion

These days, Someo has a very small population, less than 400 people. In the 19th and 20th century, most of the citizens emigrated to either California, Australia, or Argentina. 

One of these days, I'd love to visit Ticino and see the beautiful countryside and architecture for which it is famous. 

When I googled Ticinese food, every single time, this minestrone popped up. It was totally worth making it. In fact, I'll be making it over and over again. 

Ticinese Minestrone soup with Savoy cabbage and cheesy bread

Check out everyone's soup celebrating their heritage: 

More Minestrone Recipes

Ticinese Minestrone

Ticinese Minestrone
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
This Ticinese minestrone is from the Swiss canton of Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. It's hearty, filling, and nutritious.


For the Beans
  • 150 grams dried beans of your choice
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
For the Soup
  • 150 grams (5 1/4 ounce) smoked bacon, about 4 slices, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • 1 medium brown or yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) savoy cabbage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 150 grams (5 1/4 ounces) about 4 carrots, cubed
  • 100 grams (4 ounces) leeks, white parts, thinly sliced
  • 100 grams (4 ounces) celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 50 grams kale (2 ounces) thinly sliced
  • 80 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 7-8 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • 150 grams (5 1/4 ounces) arborio rice
  • 150 grams (5 1/4 ounces) potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 200 grams (7 ounces, about 4 small) fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 sprigs, flat leaf parsley, chopped.


  1. Cook the beans according to package directions until just soft. You can soak them overnight to shorten the time. Drain and set aside. 
  2. In a 6 to 8 quart Dutch oven, cook the bacon briefly, until some of the fat has rendered. 
  3. Add the onions, garlic, and sage, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  4. Add the cabbage, carrots, leeks, celery, tomato paste, kale, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  5. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the sun dried tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Add the beans, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, and arborio rice, and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley
soup, minestrone
Swiss, Italian
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Would you like to comment?

  1. Loved reading your post and seeing the pics of your family. Minestrone is so delicious,I like the addition of the kale in it!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and your memories. I had not even heard of Ticino so I learned a lot from your post.

    1. Thanks Wendy. Some day I'd love to go there!

  3. Aw I love that you shared family photos with this delicious soup!

  4. Such beautiful family photos and memories! The soup looks wonderful and so comforting too. Meant to mention earlier, but I am loving your new site design!

    1. Thanks so much Tara. I'm still still wondering if I should move to WP, but in the meantime, I am pretty happy with this.

  5. Great Memories Karen! I love looking at family pictures and this is awesome. I love this soup. This is very comforting. Given the history of the soup, I am interested in making a bacon-less version of this for dinner. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. Thanks so much Radha! I'm sure you can make it without bacon.

  6. We live near Lugano, but often go through Someo, as my daughter lived in Cevio for a buch of years after leaving home, and still has friends there, and my wife and I often go as we like the area. I came across your recipe as I bought some minestrone ingredients today!


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