Minestrone Soup is easy, healthy, hearty, comforting, versatile and all made in one pot!
This Classic Minestrone Soup is loaded with vegetables, tomatoes, beans and pasta in a dynamic, rich tomato broth. It is warm, satisfying, can be made with your favorite veggies, with or without meat and with or without pasta. It is 1000X better than Olive Garden Minestrone Soup, makes a ton and tastes even better the next day for easy lunch or dinner!
Minestrone Soup Recipe
As Patrick took a big slurp of this Minestrone Soup recipe, he uttered, “I LOVE it,” and continued to shovel in spoonful after spoonful.
And I LOVE it too and couldn’t be more excited to share it with you!
I wanted to share this Minestrone Soup recipe with you in the midst of the holidays because not only is it fast, healthy, uses affordable pantry ingredients and seasonal veggies, it is also spectacular for leftover turkey or ham!
Just clean out your fridge after Christmas and you will have the best Minestrone Soup of your life – because this Minestrone Soup has the best Minestrone broth.
All too often Minestrone broths taste like flat, watered down tomato juice. But Minestrone broth should be full-bodied, rich, savory and complexly flavorful. I adapted my broth from my Italian Vegetable Soup, which is already a proven winner, and now we have another winner, or so says Patrick.
What Is Minestrone Soup?
It doesn’t get much more hearty, healthy and comforting than Minestrone Soup. Minestrone is a popular Italian soup that is arguably even more widely eaten than pasta in Italy.
Today, Minestrone Soup is characterized by:
- its thick tomato broth
- loads of different vegetables, usually whatever is in season
- beans, pasta and/or rice
Due to its unique charter, there is no uniform recipe for Minestrone Soup. There are several variations throughout Italy depending on the region and season. In northern Italy, Minestrone is more commonly made with root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, celery and onions, whereas, in Southern Italy, tomatoes, beans, zucchini and peas are more common.
Where does Minestrone Come From?
Minestrone was originally considered “cucina povera”– literally “poor kitchen” because it was primarily made with leftovers in Italy in order to not waste food.
In fact, the word minestrone comes from Italian “minestra” meaning soup and the modern suffix “-one,” which indicates largeness. This describes how Minestrone Soup is made with a many different leftovers that come together to make ONE hearty, simple, inexpensive soup.
Today, the word “minestrone” has become a synonym for “a mix of all things,” AKA the perfect clean out the fridge meal!
What vegetables are in minestrone soup?
Be prepared for this Minestrone Soup to transform your non-veggie lovers into Minestrone Soup lovers!
My Minestrone Soup recipe includes:
- Green beans
You can also substitute anything you have in the fridge or your favs such as:
- Bell peppers
What spices do you put in minestrone soup?
- red pepper flakes
- bay leaf
Minestrone Soup boasts a custom blend of Italian seasonings. I used dried herbs for convenience, but you are welcome to substitute with fresh herbs, the general rule is 3:1 (fresh to dried).
I have also added red pepper flakes which awaken all the other seasonings. It does not make the soup spicy, but does add a kick. If you know you don’t like any heat then reduce to 1/8 teaspoon.
WHAT KIND OF PASTA DO YOU USE IN MINESTRONE SOUP?
My favorite pasta to use for this Minestrone Soup recipe is small/mini pasta shells. I have tried medium pasta shells and rigatoni and they were not nearly as satisfying. Small pasta shapes that are about the size of your chopped veggies ensure you get the right ratio of pasta to veggies in every slurpful.
Other small pastas such as ditalini (the small short tubes) and mini penne will also work.
What meat is in minestrone soup?
Authentic Minestrone Soup was vegetarian due to the cost of meat for the humble soup makers. Today, Minestrone Soup can be vegetarian OR it is the perfect base to add any meat to.
You can add leftover ham, turkey, rotisserie chicken or your own chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, Italian sausage or bacon.
I use a meat-based broth (chicken broth) in this Minestrone Soup recipe because it is more flavorful than vegetable broth but you are welcome to use vegetable broth instead.
How do you make the best minestrone soup?
Step 1: Melt butter in olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Sautéing these veggies first enhances their flavor as they begin to caramelize and ensures they cook in the same amount of time as the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2: Add green beans, zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, all seasonings, chicken broth and water.
Step 3: Cover Minestrone Soup and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Covering the soup helps the soup come to a boil much quicker. Make sure you check your soup a few times so you know as soon as its boiling.
Step 4: Add pasta and cook just until al dente. Cooking times vary, so make sure you check a piece of pasta periodically.
Step 5: Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Let wilt (about 1 minute). If you have a few non-spinach eaters, you can hold it the spinach from the main pot and instead add the spinach to the spinach-eaters bowls and spoon the hot Minestrone Soup on top of it.
Step 6: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan. Freshly grated Parmesan is a MUST! I also like to serve with fresh basil as well.
Notes about this Minestrone Soup Recipe
Al Dente Pasta: Cook the pasta just until al dente (meaning it has a little bite) to it because it will still cook a little once you remove it from the heat and nothing is worse than ruining a whole pot of Minestrone Soup than with soggy pasta.
Cook Pasta Separately: As this Minestrone Soup Recipe is written, the pasta cooks in the pot with the veggies. If you aren’t prepared to babysit your pasta towards the end of cooking, then simply cook your pasta separately and add to individual bowls. You will also want to cook your pasta separately if you plan on freezing your Minestrone Soup.
Customize Veggies: This Minestrone Recipe is very forgiving when it comes to customizing the veggies with whatever you have on hand. You can swap the spinach for Swiss chard or baby kale, add potatoes (chopped ½” and add with green beans), add frozen peas, cabbage (both at end when you would add spinach), etc.
Zucchini: The zucchini takes the least amount of time to cook, so take care you cut it on the thick side – at least ¼” chunks.
Green Beans: I like fresh green beans but they are not my favorite vegetable – but guess what?! They are my favorite vegetable in this Minestrone Soup Recipe – I highly recommend them!
Add protein. I love this Minestrone Soup as the base for whatever meat we have on hand or whatever we’re craving. It’s fabulous to throw in some shredded rotisserie chicken, any type of ground meat (turkey, beef or Italian Sausage) or even mini meatballs!
Pre Chopped Veggies: This Minestrone Soup comes together very quickly – the only prep work you have to do is chop your veggies. To save time and make this recipe almost “dump and simmer,” you can purchase pre-chopped veggies.
Scale Down: This recipe makes a lot of servings so I would recommend scaling down if you don’t have a large family and don’t want leftovers. If you do love leftovers (raising my hand high), then you will love leftover Minestrone Soup for an easy lunch or dinner!
Rice for Pasta: I am a HUGE wild rice fan, so I will sometimes use wild rice instead of pasta in this Minestrone. If you choose to use rice, I recommend cooking it separately to ensure proper cooking of the rice and not overcooking of the veggies.
Consistency: The “chunkiness” of a soup is totally personal preference. For a less chunky Minestrone Soup, simply add additional water at the end of cooking.
WHAT CAN YOU SERVE MINESTRONE SOUP WITH?
Minestrone Soup is a meal-in-one packed full of veggies, all it needs some crusty bread, cheesy bread, or better yet, some Pesto Pull Apart Bread. For a side fruit, I love my Winter Fruit Salad with this recipe.
IS MINESTRONE SOUP HEALTHY?
This Minestrone Soup is one of the healthiest soups on my blog! It is packed with vegetables which means it is packed with vitamins, protein and fiber.
Gluten Free Minestrone Soup: If you want to make gluten free Minestrone Soup, you can omit the pasta or use gluten free pasta. If you omit the pasta, you can either add more vegetables or a can of great northern beans.
Vegan Minestrone Soup: If you want to make vegan Minestrone Soup, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Can you Freeze Minestrone Soup?
Most recipes will say you can freeze Minestrone Soup – I say yes and no. I think Minestrone Soup is best served fresh/refrigerated because some of the vegetables and pasta will get a little soggy/mushy. If you are not a texture critic, then you will be fine, if you are put off easily by different textures, you might want to refrain from freezing.
If you plan to freeze this Minestrone Soup, omit the pasta and cook it separately when you are ready to serve. Also, make sure the soup is completely cooled before you place your freezer safe container in the freezer.
Looking for more Italian Soup Recipes?
- Loaded Zuppa Toscana
- Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Lasagna Soup
- Creamy White Bean and Ham Soup
- Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
- Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Lemon Chicken Soup with Tortellini
- One Pot White Chicken Lasagna Soup
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