A classic homestyle, vegetarian minestrone soup recipe that’s easy to make with pantry staples like dried pasta, beans and carrots.
Classic Italian minestrone soup is a versatile Mediterranean-style dish, easy to put together any time of year depending the vegetables on hand.
At its best, minestrone soup can be a simple meal in a bowl, a homey, nourishing dish that comfortably bridges transitions between seasons.
Making minestrone soup
There aren’t strict rules to follow when making authentic minestrone soup in the Italian style.
But there are some vegetables essential to the mix:
- Beans (green and/or dried)
- Potatoes (in some versions)
According to Marcella Hazan, the character of authentic Italian soup — minestra — depends on two things: The season and the place.
For example, if you plopped yourself into summertime on the coast of southern Italy, your bowl of soup would likely be a fragrant chemistry of ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and sparkling fresh seafood.
During colder months further north in Tuscany you’d be more likely to encounter a hearty stick-to-your-ribs ribollita, a thick stew of beans, potatoes, stale bread and hardy winter vegetables like cabbage and kale.
My ideal summer minestrone would definitely include fresh tomatoes, zucchini and lots of basil.
The soup I offer here is based on basic ingredients and pantry staple like carrots, onions, canned beans and tomatoes.
Cooked elbow pasta, green beans and leafy greens round out the bowl, making this a satisfying and nutritious one-dish meal.
It’s so worth making a pot of homemade soup!
Not only does this minestrone keep well for days in the refrigerator (and tastes even better), but it’s a delicious way make a family meal without a lot of time and expense.
Classic Italian Vegetable Minestrone Soup
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups (256 g) chopped carrots (3 large or 6 small carrots)
- 1/2 cup (80 g) chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic cloves
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney or cannellini beans (or 1 of each), , drained
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound (225 g) green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups (90 g) small dried pasta, elbows, small shells or ditalini
- 2 cups (80 g) dark leafy greens such as spinach, chard or kale, roughly chopped
- Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large (5 or 6 quart) soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add the garlic, celery and fennel and cook a few minutes more to soften.
- Stir in the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, beans, bay leaf, 2 teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste. Pour in 6 cups water and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook 25 minutes at a simmer.
- Add the green beans and pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat and stir in the greens.
- Taste the soup for seasoning. Serve warm with grated cheese.