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Easy Minestrone Soup (Includes Vegan & Sausage Options)

This easy minestrone soup recipe is a delicious way to enjoy more veggies. It works well with a variety of vegetables, fresh, frozen, or root cellared. Unlike your basic vegetable soup, minestrone often includes pasta to make it more filling, and Italian spices.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup dates back to ancient Rome, where it was “peasant food” made from available vegetables, grains, and beans. The name “minestrone” is derived from the Italian word “minestra,” which means “soup.”

Over time, the recipe evolved, incorporating a variety of ingredients as they became available. This adaptability is what makes minestrone so unique. No two recipes are exactly alike, and each version reflects the local produce and culinary traditions. (It’s a favorite on the Olive Garden restaurant menu, too.)

How to Make Minestrone Soup

Here’s a traditional minestrone soup recipe that can be adjusted based on what you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried kidney beans or white beans, such as cannellini beans or great northern beans (or 15 ounces canned beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 quarts broth – chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth (for vegetarian minestrone soup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup diced raw potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (or one pint home canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup small pasta (e.g., ditalini or elbow macaroni)
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning blend
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
  • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish

Instructions

Note: I prefer to use dried beans, because that’s what we usually have in the pantry. To save time, substitute 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. If using dry beans, rinse and soak overnight, and then cover with water and simmer for 1 – 2 hours.

For faster cooking, rinse the beans and load them into the Instant Pot with 3 cups of water and two bay leaves. Cook on High Pressure for 35 minutes, then drain excess liquid and remove bay leaves before adding the beans to the soup. I cook the beans while working on the rest of the recipe.

To sauté the vegetables, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, potatoes, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the cooked beans, pasta, and spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about 10-12 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add a bit more broth or water to reach the desired consistency.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Serve hot with crusty bread, if desired.

Variations

For vegan or vegetarian minestrone, stick to vegetable broth as your base. Skip the Parmesan cheese or use a vegan alternative.

To make it gluten free, skip the pasta, or use gluten free pasta. Our favorite is Tinkyada brown rice pasta.

You can also use different types of beans, such as kidney beans or chickpeas. For a heartier version, include some cooked Italian sausage or pancetta. A small butcher shop near us has some delicious organic Italian sausage in one pound tubes, which is a good size for this recipe.

Feel free to vary the vegetables based on the season. Add peas, squash, or corn in the summer, and root vegetables like potatoes and turnips in the winter.

Try 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, or a small zucchini or yellow squash, diced. Add these along with the tomatoes. Use 2 cups fresh spinach or kale, chopped, added with the beans.

You can substitute fresh herbs for dried, and add red pepper flakes for more heat. Love & Lemons has a simple recipe for an Italian seasoning blend.

Can I make minestrone soup ahead of time?

Absolutely! Minestrone soup often tastes better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

When reheating, you may need to add a bit more broth or water as the pasta can absorb liquid over time.

Can I freeze minestrone soup?

Yes, minestrone soup freezes well. Allow the soup to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove. For best results, you might want to cook the pasta separately and add it when reheating to prevent it from becoming mushy.

How can I make my minestrone soup more flavorful?

To enhance the flavor of your minestrone soup, use homemade broth or add a Parmesan rind during cooking (remove before serving). Fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and rosemary add brightness and contrast to the beans and pasta. Finally, don’t forget to season generously with salt and pepper.

Minestrone soup works well as a starter or a hearty main dish, depending on how you adjust the recipe. It’s become on of our favorite “go to” meals.

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Easy Minestrone Soup

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Classic minestrone is a rustic, seasonal soup that’s sure to please.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: soup

Ingredients

Units Scale

    • 1 cup dried kidney beans or white beans, such as cannellini beans or great northern beans (or 15 ounces canned beans, drained and rinsed)
    • 2 quarts broth – chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth (for vegetarian minestrone soup)
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 carrots, diced
    • 3 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 cup diced raw potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (or one pint home canned tomatoes)
    • 1 cup small pasta (e.g., ditalini or elbow macaroni)
    • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning blend
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
    • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Note: I prefer to use dried beans, because that’s what we usually have in the pantry. To save time, substitute 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. If using dry beans, rinse and soak overnight, and then cover with water and simmer for 1 – 2 hours.
  2. For faster cooking, rinse the beans and load them into the Instant Pot with 3 cups of water and two bay leaves. Cook on High Pressure for 35 minutes, then drain excess liquid and remove bay leaves before adding the beans to the soup. I cook the beans while working on the rest of the recipe.
  3. To sauté the vegetables, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, potatoes, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the diced tomatoes and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked beans, pasta, and spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about 10-12 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add a bit more broth or water to reach the desired consistency.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Serve hot with crusty bread, if desired.

Notes

Feel free to substitute seasonal vegetables or add in cooked sausage or diced pancetta.

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easy minestrone soup

More Homestyle Recipes

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Toscana Soup Like Olive Garden (Zuppa Toscana)

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

August’s Chili Recipe with Dark Beer and Chocolate

No Bake Cheesecake (Easy Recipe, Fun Serving Ideas)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe (Swiss Roll Cake Style)

Laurie Neverman, fall 2023

This article is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie grew up in the kitchen, learning baking and home cooking from her momma. At age 15, she and her mom and two sisters created Irene’s Custom Cakes & Catering, which was her summer job through most of high school and college.

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