Valdostana Cabbage and Onion Soup / Zuppa di cavolo valdostana, cipolla e pane

Cabbage and Onion Soup” – doesn’t sound very exciting does it? I found this recipe recently and was intrigued by the text which preceded it:

“Are you looking after yourself? What’s your health life plan? Does the plan include healthy eating, a balanced diet and a prudent lifestyle which will nurture the bacteria in your gut? Not all bacteria are bad and many of them are beneficial and essential to our well-being. Some live on the surface of your skin, inside the mouth or the nose – but the biggest numbers are living inside your gut. The gut is the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the bowel. Can my gut flora really help to keep me healthy? Yes, it keeps your gut bacteria healthy. Add this recipe into your regular meal schedule, it will support your gut bacteria and you will be looking after your long-term health.”

Valdostana Cabbage and Onion Soup

Zuppa di cavolo valdostana, cipolla e pane

Cabbage & onion soup from the Valle d’Aosta region of Northern Italy.

Adapted from a recipe by Antonio Carluccio in his book “Vegetables”.

“If you are in the Aosta Valley in the winter and visit a local restaurant or osteria, you may find this heart-warming and delicious soup or pasticcio on the menu.” Antonio Carluccio

This soup is best eaten as soon as you’ve made it. If you’re cooking for fewer people, it’s easy to reduce the quantities; you won’t need to adjust the cooking time.

“Certain types of fibre and carbohydrates have been found to particularly encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut. A plentiful and assorted group of helpful bacteria living in your gut can help your body improve immune function, create nutrients, control appetite and improve your mental wellbeing. Known as pre-biotic foods, these everyday ingredients are a cheap and easy addition to your diet. Bananas, spring onions, onions, garlic, cabbage, leeks, oats, asparagus, nectarines, blueberries and grapefruit are all pre-biotic foods. Following a diverse Mediterranean (includes Italian) diet will ensure you eat plenty of these foods.”

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 800g to 1kg savoy cabbage, stems removed from the leaves and leaves cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 6 tbsp good olive oil for cooking
  • 2 large thick slices of wholegrain bread, cut into large cubes
  • 12 sage leaves, most shredded (leave a few whole for garnishing)
  • 1 large white onion, finely sliced
  • 200g vegetarian soft cheese, (use vegetarian soft taleggio, goat’s cheese or cheddar, cut into small cubes)
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • To finish:
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 50g unsalted butter


  1.  Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Blanch the cut cabbage leaves in the stock for 5 minutes, then remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Keep the stock hot in the pan.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/gas mark 4.
  4. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and sliced sage leaves to the pan. Sauté for 10 minutes on a low heat, until the onion is soft and sticky but not coloured. Stir frequently.
  5. Add the reserved cabbage to the pan, lightly season well with salt and pepper and mix everything together. Turn off the heat and transfer the mix to a warm dish and cover.
  6. Heat the bread cubes in 3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, and fry for a few minutes on a low heat, until golden in colour. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
  7. Get a wide, deep ovenproof dish (about 25cm across) and start layering up the soup. Start with the bread cubes, to create an even layer on the bottom.
  8. Top with half of the cabbage and onion mixture, and sprinkle over a third of the cheese cubes. Layer with the remaining cabbage and onion mixture and a third more cheese.
  9. Ladle over the stock until the dish is almost full. Scatter over the remaining cheese cubes and sage leaves.
  10. Fry the garlic in a small frying pan in the butter until foaming, then pour over the top of the cabbage.
  11. When ready to bake cover the dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes until the soup is golden and bubbling up.
  12. Tips and serving suggestions: Serve immediately. As an alternative to using the bread cubes in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, use them to spread over the soup when it’s served into your bowl.

Produced by John Fletcher at

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