Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 8 ingredients (through garlic); sauté 5 minutes. Add cabbage and next 5 ingredients (through cannellini beans); bring to a boil. Stir in potato and barley. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in green beans; cook 5 minutes.
This is a decent soup; nothing terribly special but nice for a cold evening when you're feeling snifflly. I found the bacon didn't really add much to it, so I'd probably just leave it out if I make the soup again. I added a can of diced tomatoes for some extra flavor, and drizzled some olive oil on top along with the cheese. I think it might brighten the flavor to use some more parsley than called for and just stir it in at the end rather than boiling it.
This soup was surprisingly bland given the fresh herbs and bacon. I used homemade chicken stock so maybe I should have added more salt. I served this with a slice of the Irish Brown Soda Bread from the March 2010 issue. I probably won't make this soup again because it was labor intensive in terms of chopping and the flavor payoff wasn't that big.
I am not a lover of minestrone. I tried this soup, and it is fantastic! The sage really gives it a wonderful flavor, and the barley thickens it and makes it taste rich. I have made it a dozen times, and it comes out consistently great every time. I have done it in the crock pot and it works well. It's nice to put a little Parmesan or Asiago on top when you serve it. Kudos!
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