Italian Minestrone Soup ~ next to grandma’s chicken soup there’s nothing more comforting than a pot of minestrone bubbling away on the stove. This authentic recipe will warm you, satisfy you, fortify you, and slim you. Not bad for a bowl of soup.
When it comes to everyday soups, I alternate between a classic chicken broth soup and a brilliant red tomato/veg soup depending on what I feel like. These soups keep me cozy when it’s cold, and comforted when I’m under the weather. They also help me shed pounds because the high liquid and high fiber fills you up without excess calories. And they’re the ultimate thrifty recipe, making use of whatever’s in the crisper.
How do you make authentic minestrone soup?
That depends on who you ask. Minestrone is an ancient soup made all over Italy, and the recipe varies quite a bit. For me, the key ingredients in minestrone are a rich garlicky tomato broth, kidney beans (they must be kidney!) vegetables, and small pasta. Ditalini is traditional, but my store didn’t have it so I used mini farfalle. Any small pasta will do.
But of course I ‘great islandize‘ my minestrone, and that means a few things…I puree crushed tomatoes with a jar of roasted red peppers before adding it to the broth, this gives it a glorious deep crimson color and lots of extra flavor (no pale minestrone for me.) I use vibrant seasonal veggies like delicata squash, golden beets, and broccoflower (could have used Brussels sprouts as well,) in addition to the usual suspects like green beans and carrots.
I don’t go by a strict recipe, I just open a few cans, and chop and drop whatever’s in the crisper. I always season with bay leaves, garlic, and some chili flakes for heat. Oh, and I add a Parm rind to the broth if I have one, it adds the perfect hint of umami ‘funk’.
As you can see I like my minestrone on the chunky side, almost more stew than soup. I like to make a meal of it, and I want it to be satisfying.
Fresh greens add a boost of nutrition to vegetable soup
The last step in making this minestrone is to add a few good handfuls of greens just before serving,…that could be baby spinach like I used, or shredded kale, chard, or even basil. They’ll wilt into the broth almost instantly. A final topping of Parmesan cheese is essential to the experience, so don’t skip it unless you’re eating vegan.
Soup improves over time, as long as you don’t do this!
As long as you don’t over cook the vegetables, this soup will be even better the next day, although I’ve always thought that phenomenon was mostly because the soup is all ready and waiting for you, with no labor involved 🙂 The secret is to under cook the veggies just a bit, so they stay firm overnight.
Soup is my best kept diet secret
You’ve heard me say this before, but my secret weight loss weapon isn’t a fancy diet, pill, or weird shake…it’s soup! The magic of a healthy soup like this is that it fills you up and makes you feel satisfied without lots of calories. You can eat as much as you like. Leave out the pasta for even lower carbs.
tvfgi recommends: an enameled cast iron soup pot
This Le Creuset pot is so pretty (and so heavy!) that I keep it out on my stove top 24/7 so it’s always handy when I want to make a soup or stew. They come in a rainbow of colors, but somehow I always gravitate to the white because it shows off the food like nothing else. Yes, Le Creuset pots are pricey, but the other way to think about it is that they will be a part of your family forever. Better list yours in your will, the kids will fight over it 😉
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- several inner stalks of celery, plus the leaves, sliced
- 32 ounces chicken, beef, or vegetable broth.
- 2 bay leaves
- Parmesan rind, optional but good!
- 26 ounces of strained or crushed tomatoes, I love Pomi
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1/2 small delicata squash, halved, seeded, and sliced (no need to peel)
- 1 golden beet, diced or cut in small wedges
- 2 cups purple and orange cauliflower florets, sliced if large
- handful fresh green beans, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini, cut in half moons
- 1 or 2 sliced red jalapeño peppers, or use dried chili flakes to taste, start with 1/2 tsp
- 15 ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked small cut pasta such as ditalini
- 2-3 handfuls fresh greens, I used baby spinach
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- Add the oil and butter to a large soup pot and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often. Add the celery and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broth or stock, bay leaves, and cheese rind to the pan.
- While the onions etc are cooking puree the tomatoes and the red peppers in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Add the tomato sauce to the pot and stir. Bring the soup up to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Add the denser veggies to the pot first, to give them a head start ~ I add the carrots, squash, and beets now. Let them simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Next add the cauliflower, beans, zucchini, red peppers (or dried flakes if using) and kidney beans. Cover and simmer until the veggies are tender. If the soup seems too thick, add a little water to thin it down.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and then add the greens. Stir them into the soup until they have wilted down.
- Remove the cheese rind and the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cheese and a drizzle of oil, if you like.
Make this classic minestrone soup your own ~
For an extra layer of flavor sauté some diced pancetta, sausage, or bacon along with the onions.
Change out the kidney beans for chickpeas, white, or black beans. If you love beans, add more than one kind.
If you love potatoes, add them.
Add shredded rotisserie chicken or sausage for extra protein.
Questions and Reviews
We really enjoyed this it is delicious,could not find the squash or cauliflower(will add dice Yukon potato tonight) but added some fennel bulb we had in the crisper.Also roasted a large red bell over gas stove in place of the jarred stuff and used the beet greens from the unpeeled gold beet.Finished the soup with beautiful chopped Italian Parsley from our garden, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and good drizzle finishing EVOO.The bell pepper is an amazing addition to the tomatoes as well as the parm rind.Thanks for another great recipe Sue.
I love having recipes like this to use at my house for my family! Looks delicious!
I made this for my Bunco group, it was a hit! Love your recipes.
Thanks Anne, I’m really pleased. And can you believe it, I’ve never played Bunco!
Just on time, Sue. It is a soup I have never done before, for some reason…..
I love your recipe; is balanced and looks whole. I will do minestrone soon and let you know.
This looks fabulous! I will try it.
BTW I tried to make some clotted cream day before yesterday. What a mess! I set the oven to 180 and when I awoke it had burned! My oven must be too hot. Anyway, I tried to salvage it, but it just never thickened and set up. I did refrigerate it. But this morning I got a disgusting mess with a few dried clots and lots of weird, reddish, light- colored brown cream underneath. I did use only pasteurized cream and I even had to travel miles to get it. But
I had to throw it all away. My oven goes down to 170. Maybe I should try that and see what happens.
I’m so disappointed!
Likely your oven is not calibrated correctly Yolie, it’s very common. You could get an oven thermometer to check, they aren’t expensive and they really help.
I saw your email this morning with the word,”Minestrone” and that’s all it took for me to march to the kitchen and start up la minestra! I appreciate a reminder about having a pot on during a ‘otherwise occupied’ kind-of week! Thank you Sue!
By the way….the BEST secret to your recipe is the combo of roasted red bells pureed along with the tomatoes to deepen, (and color) the soup….Just when I thought I knew all there was to making Minestrone! The two generations above me also say; “Thank you” ! LOL
Thanks Joy 🙂 I love the roasted red pepper tip, it makes such a difference.
When do I add the Parm rind to the soup? Unless I missed it, I don’t see that step. Thanks!
I just corrected that, Debbie, thanks for noticing…it goes in along with the bay leaves 🙂
Looks warming and delicious! A perfect soup for the rainy season we have over here.
Seriously, red kidney beans not white garbanzo? I know a lady who is so Italian she calls on her patron saint any time I tell her my spaghetti is better than hers about your version of this sainted soup and she will want your address in order to reach you. Your version looks delicious, by the way.
haha, ok, maybe I went to far, garbanzos would be jut as welcome in my soup 😉