Minestrone Soup

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 Video

up close of a ladle full of Italian Minestrone Soup with pasta

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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.

top view of a white bowl of hearty Minestrone Soup Recipe

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:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach

You can also substitute anything you have in the fridge or your favs such as:

  • Potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Parsnips
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • peas
showing how to make hearty Minestrone Soup Recipe by chopping celery, carrots, onions, zucchini, green beans, garlic and onions on a white cutting board

What spices do you put in minestrone soup?

  • basil
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 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 ⅛ 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.

showing how to make Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe by adding green beans, zucchini, kidney beans, diced tomatoes to soup pot

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.

showing how to make authentic Minestrone Soup Recipe by simmering vegetables, tomatoes and beans together

Step 4: Add pasta and cook just until al dente.   Cooking times vary, so make sure you check a piece of pasta periodically.

showing how to make best Minestrone Soup Recipe by adding pasta to soup

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.

showing how to make easy Minestrone soup by adding spinach to soup

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.

top view of Best Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe

Cooking tips for 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!

a far away shot of a big scoop of traditional Minestrone Soup Recipe

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.

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up close of a ladle full of Italian Minestrone Soup with pasta

Minestrone Soup

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!  
Servings: 8 servings
Total Time: 45 mins
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter may sub olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 medium size carrots chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery chopped (1 cup)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves minced
  • 5 oz. fresh green beans trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini thickly sliced (1/4”) and quartered
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15.5 oz. can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, dried parsley
  • 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, salt, sugar
  • 1/2 tsp EACH black pepper, dried thyme
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth may sub vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water

ADD LATER

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked small pasta shells
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil optional

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Add all remaining soup ingredients through the water. Cover soup and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add pasta and cook just until al dente.
  • Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Let wilt (about 1 minute). Add additional water if desired for a less “chunky” soup.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
  • Correct Pasta: My favorite pasta to use for this Minestrone Soup recipe is small/mini pasta shells.  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.  I don’t recommend medium pastas.
  • 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.
 

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42 Comments

  1. Karen says

    This looks like another great recipe. Can you comment on portion size? As listed, you said the recipe serves 8. Is that 1 cup per person or? And, you mentioned it tasted great heated up the next day. I want to serve it at a dinner party but want to make as many things in advance as possible. If I make it a day ahead, do you suggest I cook and add the pasta right before serving? Wasn’t sure if the pasta SHOULD cook with the soup to get the most flavor. Like you said, I don’t want soggy pasta. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Karen, I didn’t measure exactly but I believe the portions to be closer to 1 1/2 cups per person. And yes, it tastes fabulous heated up the next day! If you are making for a large dinner party and reheating, I would cook the pasta separately that way you can make sure you don’t overcook your pasta and equally important – your zucchini – it will just make life easier the day of. The soup has so much flavor, it is okay if the pasta isn’t cooked in the soup. After you cook your pasta al dente, make sure to toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking before refrigerating. When reheating your soup, warm the soup first and then add the pasta towards the end because it doesn’t take long to reheat in a hot soup. I hope that helps! Happy hosting!

  2. Janice McGinty says

    Made this soup as a first course for Christmas dinner. People were going back for seconds even though a rib roast and salmon fillet were on the menu! Your recipes are always enticing and I love your photography. Thanks for the great new recipe!

    • Jen says

      That is amazing Janice, thank you so much for sharing and making my day! Merry Christmas!

  3. Elle says

    I made this for my family tonight and it turned out incredible! I have never found a minestrone soup that I liked very much, but this one was the best minestrone soup I have ever tasted – or made! I have been having a difficult winter and this soup nourished my soul. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Elle for taking the time to comment, I’m so pleased you finally found a Minestrone Soup recipe you love! I am sorry to hear you are having a difficult winter – sending you huge HUGS! xo

  4. Kate says

    So delicious! Made the best soup for a winter snow storm stuck-in-the-house day! I added a can of great northern beans and no extra water. It was such a nice thick, rich soup. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Kate, thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m so glad it could warm you up on such a cold winter day!

  5. Rebecca says

    I made this today and added a ton, ton, TON of mushrooms (my dad’s favorite) and it came out delicious. This makes a lot of servings. Great recipe- thank you for sharing!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it and the addition of a ton of mushrooms sounds fabulous!

  6. Peter says

    Excellent recipe, rich deep flavor!!! I added some cubed potatoes, diced red and yellow peppers and 1 Knorr vegetable bouillon cube for flavor…I tend to have a heavy hand on vegetable measures…lol. Thanks so much! I will definitely check out some of your other recipes…

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Peter as I’m catching up on comments but THANK YOU so much for commenting! I’m honored you loved this Minestrone Soup so much and it sounds delish with your additional veggies as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring my site and hopefully found some new favorites!

  7. Amy says

    This looks UNREAL. I want to make it asap. I was wondering though, do the fire roasted tomatoes make it very spicy? 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Amy! Fire roasted tomatoes aren’t spicy at all – just smoked so they are slightly sweeter and smoky. Enjoy!

  8. Brian says

    This is as good as Minestrone soup can possibly get. I made the recipe exactly as written. Usually the 2nd time through is when I change some things and adapt a recipe to my tastes. This recipe is so perfect, the next time I make it there will be no changes. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your kind words Brian, I’m honored you love this Minestrone Soup recipe so much!

  9. Krista says

    This was awesome! I subbed with vegetable broth as suggest, and I subbed the diced tomatoes with one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes because that’s what I had in my pantry. I have made a bunch of minestrone soup recipe, and this is BY FAR my favorite.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m honored this is your new favorite Minestrone Soup recipe! Thank you for making my day Krista!

  10. Kelly says

    Made this tonight. My husband and I both loved it!
    Going to be a regular meal option!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thank you so much Kelly!

  11. Jim Seaman says

    How much tomato sauce and tomatoes do you put
    In the soup. How much liquid

    • Jen says

      All of the measurements are listed with the ingredients. Enjoy!

  12. Ros3yp says

    Made this for the first time. (Vegan style) added cannellini beans & cayenne pepper for a slight kick instead of adding red pepper flakes. Made it in a 8 qt Dutch oven. It was a huge hit tonight at our family potluck, with only one bowl of leftovers! Served it with sourdough and it is a definite keeper for a weeknight dinner. Going to be making this again very soon! Comfort soup for a cold chilly southern Cali winter evening! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I completely forgot to take a pic of my soup, since it was made to take as soon as finished. Next time!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your awesome comment Rosey! I’m honored this Minestrone Soup was a huge hit and will be getting a lot of use this rainy winter!

  13. Mary Lou Varney says

    This was wonderful!! I was wondering, could I use a crockpot?

    • Jen says

      Thanks Mary! Yes you can cook it in a crockpot except I recommend cooking the pasta separately and adding at the end. Pasta can become a funny texture if not cooked at a rolling boil.

  14. Jessica Johnston says

    Made this last night to bring to my parents to eat for a few days while we are all on shut down, Don’t’ want them going out of the house as much as possible. They LOVED It!! I also kept some for myself for lunch for a few days. This is by far my favorite minestrone soup recipe.

    • Jen says

      You are so thoughtful Jessica to make this Minestrone Soup for your parents! and thank you so much for your awesome feedback – I’m thrilled it was loved by all and your new favorite!

  15. Sarah says

    This recipe looks delicious (and I trust it will be, as I have been blown away by every recipe of yours I have tried!). I do like minestrone soup in general, but I don’t like pieces of tomato. Could I substitute more tomato sauce in place of the diced tomatoes? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sarah, yes you can certainly omit the diced tomatoes and add additional crushed tomatoes to taste. Enjoy!

  16. Damienne Dunham says

    Excellent soup! This soup is packed with flavor and is perfect for cold nights! My family and I love this soup! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Damienne, I’m so happy it was a hit!

  17. Cindy B says

    What size Dutch Oven did you use? I

    • Jen says

      I use a 7 quart for all of my soups.

  18. John Lubeck says

    A couple (3) comments:
    First, I’m a subscriber to the New York Times, wonderful news / articles and my $15 is well worth it. But now they charge for their recipes. Who would bother. Ever since I found Carlsbad Cravings, there’s really no need, even if not every single recipe I want to try is here. There’s so many.
    Secondly, regarding Minestrone Soup: The old Italian soup that I had in Versaille (yes France) was an amazing wonderful and tasty soup. I’m about to make this recipe because I believe it’s just about what I had in Versaille (15 years ago?). Minus the spinach, not that I don’t like spinach, but with all the other specified ingredients and definitely no meat (I love meat, but not in this).
    Thirdly, I never read or heard that pasta can be so “sensitive”. What about when you rewarm leftover soup?

    • Jen says

      Thanks for making my day John, I am honored you are enjoying my recipes so much! I do find shells to be more sensitive than other pasta shapes but if you cook them al dente they will be fine for rewarming. I hope you love this soup and that it brings back wonderful memories of Versaille!

      • John Lubeck says

        Yes, it was as good as I thought it would be! Immediately after cooking, the soup was a little “soupy”, which is what I normally like, but after a while, I suppose the pasta absorbed more of the liquid and it became much chunkier which IMHO is the way this recipe should be. My teenager also loved it and commented on the good spices. And one more thing to note: I used mirapoix from Trader Joes, making this BY FAR the easiest and quickest recipe I’ve ever made. So little work, such a big reward. Thanks Jen!

        • Jen says

          Thanks so much John, I’m so pleased this recipe did not disappoint! Great tip about the mirepoix, love tasty, easy shortcuts!

  19. Stephanie says

    Hi! I have recently started counting my calories. I was wondering, how many calories are in 1 serving of this soup, and how much is 1 serving?

  20. Jenna says

    I’ve made this many times and LOVE it! I was wondering if it would converted into a crockpot recipe? If so any suggestions on cool time and can everything be added at the beginning? Thanks!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Jenna, I’m so pleased it’s a hit! You can cook the vegetables in the crockpot but I don’t advise cooking the pasta in the crockpot as it needs to be cooked at a rolling boil otherwise it can become gummy.

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