Finally! It’s about time this blog offered a traditional minestrone soup recipe. Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup made with tomato-y broth and pasta or rice. I’ve been working hard on this recipe and I’m so excited to share it with you.
Minestrone was traditionally made to use up leftover vegetables, so feel free to use whichever seasonal vegetables and greens you have on hand. I used potatoes and spinach for the soup you see here, and it was absolutely delicious.
I listed some alternatives in the recipe, including yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, green beans or peas. That means that you can make seasonal minestrone on cool days from fall through spring!
I used canned beans here instead of cooking my own, which cuts the cooking time down to a more reasonable weeknight level. The remaining ingredients are basic pantry items, including canned tomatoes, pasta, basic spices and onions. This minestrone is easy to make and totally worth the effort.
This hearty minestrone packs great for lunch, and tastes even better the next day. I’m confident it will freeze and defrost well, too. If your minestrone experiences so far have been limited to the Olive Garden or store-bought varieties, you have been missing out.
I adapted this recipe from the lentil minestrone in my cookbook, which was based on my lentil soup. For this classic minestrone, I omitted the lentils, added white beans, upped the tomato paste, and reserved the final tablespoon of olive oil to mix in at the end.
If you’re looking for more soup recipes, definitely check out the two mentioned above, and I have even more soups here.
Classic Minestrone Soup
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 bowls
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Warm up with this vegetarian minestrone soup! This classic minestrone soup recipe is healthy, easy to make, and tastes incredible. It’s vegan, too, if you don’t top it with cheese. Recipe yields 6 bowls or 8 cups of soup.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium ribs celery, chopped
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, green beans or peas all work)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with their liquid (or 2 small 15-ounce cans)
- 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup whole grain orecchiette, elbow or small shell pasta
- 1 can (15 ounces) Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked beans
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped kale or chopped collard greens
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional)
- Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the seasonal vegetables, garlic, oregano and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes and their juices, broth and water. Add the salt, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
- Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving about a 1” gap for steam to escape. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans and greens. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the the pasta is cooked al dente and the greens are tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt (I usually add about ¼ teaspoon more) and pepper until the flavors really sing. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan, if you’d like.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Don’t garnish with Parmesan, or use homemade vegan Parmesan.
Make it gluten free: Substitute your favorite sturdy gluten-free noodle. I used DeLallo’s Whole-Grain Rice Shells and they worked great.
Parmesan note: Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian (they contain animal rennet), but Whole Foods 365 and BelGioioso brands offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese.