You’ll love this simple, hearty Italian minestrone soup, brimming with vegetables, beans and a little pasta. The draw here is in the thick, flavorful tomato broth with piney rosemary, lots of fresh herbs, and Parmesan rind, a secret ingredient that Italian grandmothers have been using for years!
This is an easy recipe that you can adapt to whatever vegetables you have on hand. It’s the perfect, quick weeknight dinner, and you can make it ahead to use as lunch for several days! Be sure to grab my tips for the BEST minestrone.
Minestrone soup is one of my favorite one-pot meals of all time! Easy, hearty, and loaded with veggies and affordable items, like beans and pasta, that are often on my shopping list.
I’ve made several versions, including this minestrone, which has a bit of a twist that includes Italian sausage, artichoke hearts and bow-tie pasta (a fan favorite and definitely worth a try when you want something meaty!) But today, I’m sticking with a basic vegetarian minestrone soup, which is perfect for any night of the week and does not require a special trip to the grocery store.
What is Minestrone Soup?
Minestrone is a popular thick and hearty Italian soup, combining vegetables, beans, and small pasta. There is no uniform Italian minestrone soup recipe because it’s another beautiful one-pot meal that is meant to use whatever vegetables are in season or whatever you have on hand.
Actually, the history of minestrone points to it being what the Italians called “cucina povera,” which literally means, “poor kitchen,” because it was primarily made with leftovers. I just love that!
For this reason, minestrone recipes will differ from one region to another; from season to another; and from one household to another, depending on what is most commonly available. In Northern Italy, for example, they may use more root vegetables like potatoes along with carrots, celery and onions. But in Southern Italy, you might see zucchini or even peas thrown into minestrone.
But there are a few basic ingredients you’ll find in most minestrone soup recipes: onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes (from can or fresh), beans (kidney, white beans, or a combination) and some sort of small pasta (ditalini and elbow pasta work beautifully.)
Tips for best Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
In this minestrone soup, I feel I went more the Southern Italy route by adding a bit of yellow squash (or zucchini) and a cup of green beans along with onions, carrots, and celery. But again, any vegetables you have will work. I use a can of kidney beans, added later in the process, once the veggies simmered in my rich, flavor-packed tomato broth. Cooked pasta goes in at the very end, for a good reason…
Two things make all the difference in this recipe:
1. A Rich broth with complex flavors. A few important flavor-makers ensure that the tomato broth here is anything but flat…From paprika and a hint of piney rosemary to bay leaf and fresh herbs like parsley and basil. But in my opinion, one optional ingredient kicks up the flavor and richness a bunch of times: Parmesan rind. This is a trick that’s been used by Italian grandmothers for centuries! The Parmesan rind will infuse your soup with with extra umami and savor, while thickening it to a heartier consistency. Once the soup is ready, the cheese rind has done it’s job and you can just remove whatever remains or it (it won’t completely dissolve in your soup.)
So next time you are about to finish up that Permasan or Pecorino, save the rind for your soups and sauces!
2. Pasta is cooked separately and added at serving time. This gives us best texture as it prevent the pasta from soaking up too much of the broth and getting too mushy. Better yet, when I prepare minestrone in advance say for next day’s lunch, it’s best to store the cooked pasta separate from the minstrone. When ready to serve, just portion a little bit of pasta right into the serving bowls and top with the minestrone soup.
Remember, something as communal as a pot of minestrone soup is an invitation for each home cook to get creative using what they already have on hand. Here are a few ways to adapt this minestrone recipe.
– Change up the veggies to your liking and use what’s in season. Because it’s warmer, and we have an abundance of yellow squash and zucchini, that’s what I’ve been using these days. But come fall, I may use more root vegetables such as potatoes or even sweet potatoes (diced fairly small so they will cook quickly and evenly.) Adding leafy greens is also another way to change things up; try a large handful of fresh spinach, just add it toward the end of cooking time.
– Omit the pasta. If you’re looking for a low-carb option, simply omit the pasta. In this case, I always opt to throw in more veggies.
– Add ground turkey or chicken for more lean protein. I’ve already mentioned my Italian sausage minestrone recipe, but you can adapt today’s recipe by adding cooked ground turkey or even left-over rotisserie chicken. You can add that early on, once you’ve cooked the onions, carrots, and celery.
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Simple, hearty Italian minestrone soup, brimming with vegetables, beans and a little pasta. The draw here is in the thick, flavorful tomato broth with piney rosemary, lots of fresh herbs, and Parmesan rind, a secret ingredient that Italian grandmothers have been using for years!
- 1/4 extra virgin olive oil (see our olive oil options here)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 zucchini or yellow squash, diced
- 1 cup green beans, fresh or frozen, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, if needed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken broth)
- 1-inch Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 to 3 springs fresh thyme
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans
- Large handful chopped parsley
- Handful fresh basil leaves
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
- 2 cups already cooked small pasta such as ditalini or elbow pasta
- In a large Dutch oven or cooking pot, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, carrots and celery. Raise heat to medium-high, if you need to, and cook, tossing regularly, until the veggies soften a bit (about 5 minutes or so). Add garlic and cook another minute or so.
- Add yellow squash (or zucchini) and green beans. Season with paprika, rosemary, and a generous pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Now add crush tomatoes, broth, fresh thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind (if using.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and partially cover the pot. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
- Uncover and add kidney beans. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Finally, Stir in parsley and fresh basil. And, if serving immediately, stir in the cooked pasta and simmer ever so briefly till the pasta is warmed through; do not overcook. (See Cook’s Tip #2)
- Remove cheese rind and bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve minestrone hot in dinner bowls with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan (optional.)
- Note: Pasta is already cooked before adding to the soup, simply follow package instructions. You will start with 1 cup of dry pasta, which will yield 2 cups cooked pasta.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Minestrone is meant to be adapted, so feel free to make this recipe your own by using what vegetables and beans you have on hand. Adding a handful of spinach or diced potatoes is common. You can use white beans instead of kidney beans, or use a combination of both. If you’re looking for a low-carb option, feel free to omit the pasta. And if you need something meaty, add cooked ground turkey or even left-over rotisserie chicken. You can add that early on, once you’ve cooked the onions, carrots, and celery.
- Cook’s Tip #2: If you are not serving this minestrone soup immediately, do not add the cooked pasta to the pot until you are ready to serve. This will give you best results and will prevent the pasta from soaking up too much of the broth and getting too mushy.
- Cook’s Tip #3 for Meal Prep: Related to the note above, if you plan to make minestrone to use for lunch over server days, definitely keep the cooked pasta out. You can just add a small portion of the pasta directly to your bowl, and then add an appropriate portion of hot minestrone on top.
- Recommended for this recipe: from our all-natural and organic spice collections, sweet paprika and rosemary. And be sure to see our selection of extra virgin olive oils including Private Reserve and Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil.
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- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Minestrone, Vegetarian Minestrone Soup, Italian Vegetable Bean Soup