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Classic Homestyle Italian Minestrone Soup

5 from 7 votes

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A classic homemade minestrone soup recipe that’s easy to make with pantry staples like dried pasta, beans and carrots. This vegetable soup is packed with fresh vegetables, beans, and pasta and makes a hearty meal in one bowl. Scroll down to learn how to make vegetable minestrone soup from start to finish!

Minestrone soup in a bowl, with a spoon on the side.

This is a traditional minestrone soup recipe, a versatile Italian-style vegetable soup that’s easy to put together any time of year using basic vegetables, or seasonal ones from your garden. It’s always so worth it to make a pot of homemade soup!

My minestrone is a hearty, savory soup that rivals what you’d enjoy at an Italian restaurant. It’s packed with plenty of savory veggies and pasta in a tomato broth, and finished with Parmesan cheese.

The best minestrone soup is the definition of a cozy soup meal, like roasted tomato soup with fresh tomatoes or comforting chicken noodle soup. It’s a classic that satisfies in so many ways — as a homey, nourishing dish full of fresh flavor, plus it’s soup you can make in any season!

Fun facts about minestrone soup

  • The word “minestrone” comes from the word “minestra”, which is an Italian word that encompasses a variety of brothy soups. Minestrone in particular refers to a thick vegetable soup.

What makes minestrone “minestrone”? Well, there aren’t strict rules to follow when making authentic minestrone soup in the Italian style. But there are some veggies essential to the mix. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single one — it’s okay to improvise based on what you have!

A spoon serving minestrone soup out of a Dutch oven.

Best vegetables for minestrone soup

Minestrone is perfect as a vegan and vegetarian soup. Using a mix of cut vegetables that stand up well to a longer cook time, such as carrots and celery, a warm bowl of this hearty homemade soup is ready to enjoy within just 40 minutes.

Use different vegetables in your soup, depending on what you have. Add about 1 cup of any of these in place of one or more of the ones listed in the recipe:

  • Zucchini: Green zucchini or summer squash, sliced into cubes.
  • Potatoes: For a heartier soup, peeled and diced boiling potatoes are a good choice and can be used instead of pasta.
  • Cabbage: Chop green cabbage into chunky pieces and simmer in the soup until tender.
  • Sweet corn kernels: Fresh or frozen (add with the canned beans).

According to Italian cooking expert 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 mixture of ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and pasta.

During colder months in northern Italy, 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.

Ingredients in minestrone soup

Ingredients for making minestrone soup arranged on a surface, including chopped celery, carrots, onion, canned beans and tomato puree.
  • Onion: Yellow onion, white, red onion or even leeks will work.
  • Beans: Canned beans like red kidney beans, pinto, cannellini, great northern beans or navy beans are all great in this soup. I love to use fresh green beans when they look good in the market. Frozen green beans are good too!
  • Tomato: I use a little tomato paste, along with canned tomatoes (pureed or diced) to make this soup year-round. Use fresh diced tomatoes in the summer.
  • Celery
  • Greens: Add chopped kale, spinach, chard, collard or any leafy green you like.
  • Carrot: Use small-diced butternut squash or sweet potato instead.
  • Pasta: Small soup pasta shapes like shells, ditalini, and elbow macaroni or short egg noodles.
  • Vegetable broth: I prefer to use vegetable broth or even just plain water (not chicken broth). That way you taste the pure flavor of the vegetables.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley and basil, and dried herbs such as oregano and thyme.
  • Parmesan: To garnish, use grated Parmesan. If you have a parmesan rind, throw that into the soup as it simmers for an extra layer of deliciousness!

Best pasta for minestrone soup

Pasta for soup: There are hundreds of different Italian pasta shapes, and of course there are types that are especially made for soups. Look for shapes that are 1/2-inch in size, or smaller. Here are some examples of soup pasta shapes for minestrone that are widely available:

  • Ditalini
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Tiny shells or bow ties
  • Pastina: Literally tiny pasta. Look for stelline (star-shaped pasta), acini de pepe, orzo.
  • Short egg noodles

Step by step instructions

What to serve with the soup

The minestrone is a very hearty soup served all by itself, but you can add sliced toasted of sourdough bread (for dunking!) and a leafy green salad to make a well-rounded meal.

Storage tips

  • 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.
  • Freezing tips: Cool the soup completely before transferring to a leakproof freezer-safe container (this helps prevent ice crystals from forming). Don’t fill to the brim — leave a little space at the top, as liquid expands when frozen.
  • The soup is good refrigerated up to 5 days and frozen for 2 months.
  • Reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat, until hot. You can add a little more broth if it’s thickened.
Minestrone soup in a bowl, with a spoon on the side.

Classic Homestyle Italian Minestrone Soup

Karen Tedesco
A classic homemade minestrone soup recipe that's easy to make with pantry staples like dried pasta, beans, canned tomatoes and carrots. This vegetable soup is packed with fresh vegetables, beans, and pasta and makes a hearty meal in one bowl.
Print Pin
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Soup and Stew
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Equipment

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups (250 g) chopped carrots (2 large or 3 small carrots)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped (1 ¼ cups)
  • 1 (80 g) onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (30 g) finely chopped or grated garlic, 2-3 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, dried thyme or oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 1 15-ounce tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney or cannellini beans (or 1 of each), drained
  • 4 cups (950 ml) vegetable broth or water
  • ½ pound (225 g) green beans (fresh or frozen), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Parmesan cheese rind, optional
  • 1 cup small dried pasta, such as elbows, small shells or ditalini
  • 2 cups (80 g) dark leafy greens such as spinach, chard or kale, roughly chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large (5 or 6 quart) soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables become softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, herbs and chili. Cook one minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, canned beans, green beans, 2 teaspoons salt and the Parmesan rind, if using. Pour in the broth or water and bring to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes, uncovered.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted water. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to package directions. Drain.
  • Add the pasta to the soup and stir in the greens until they wilt. Add the parsley. Taste the soup for seasoning (if you used water, the soup will need another teaspoon or so of salt). The starch from the pasta will thicken the soup as it sits. Serve in bowls, with grated cheese on top.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • The minestrone is a very hearty soup served all by itself, but you can add sliced toasted of sourdough bread (for dunking!) and a leafy green salad to make a well-rounded meal.
  • Freezing tips: Cool the soup completely before transferring to a leakproof freezer-safe container (this helps prevent ice crystals from forming). Don’t fill to the brim — leave a little space at the top, as liquid expands in the freezer. 
  • If you’re freezing a big batch of soup, consider leaving out the pasta because it will absorb the liquid and become too soft. After it’s thawed, add the cooked pasta to the soup and reheat.
  • The soup is good refrigerated up to 5 days and frozen for 2 months. 
  • Reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat, until hot. You can add a little more broth if it’s thickened.
  • Use different vegetables in your soup, depending on what you have. Add about 1 cup of any of these in place of one or more of the ones listed in the recipe:
    • Zucchini: Green zucchini or summer squash, sliced into cubes.
    • Potatoes: For a heartier soup, peeled and diced boiling potatoes are a good choice and can be used instead of pasta.
    • Cabbage: Chop green cabbage into chunky pieces and simmer in the soup until tender.
    • Sweet corn kernels: Fresh or frozen (add with the canned beans.

Nutrition

Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 7025IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg
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I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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7 Comments

  1. Hello Karen,
    I found your blog at BlogHer and I decided to visit. Your blog looks great, I really like it.
    As for the Minestrone soup i like that you shared classic recipe since it’s delicious. It’s one of my favorites because it is so colorful and healthy. Great recipe.

  2. Jennifer M. says:

    This soup looks delicious! I don’t see the macaroni in the recipe. How much did you add and when? Thanks!

    1. Jennifer – thanks for letting me know. I forgot to add the pasta to the ingredient list – oops! Use about 2 cups cooked pasta of your choice, smaller spoon sized shapes are best. Stir it in before serving since it will absorb the broth and soften if it’s in there too long before eating.

  3. We are at currently at 37 degrees with a wind chill of about 27! Great night to make this minestra, I thought.

    So I made it, following your recipe, always a delight and easy to understand! It looks and tastes amazing! Thanks, Karen!

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve made this soup many times, without the fennel (because I never have it), once threw in cauliflower and it was great, and sometimes with a little lemon juice and/or white wine, and it always comes out great. Except this time – didn’t have spinach so I threw in chopped broccoli. Not advised! I could smell my mistake as soon as it came to a simmer🙂. Purely operator error. Definitely recommended and easy.

      1. Thank you for sharing how broccoli turns out in the soup! I’m happy you enjoy the recipe.

  4. Bookmarking this so I can try. It looks delicious and like the perfect meal for a cold, North Eastern winter day…or night. Yum.