A classic homestyle, Italian vegetable soup recipe that’s easy to make with pantry staples like dried pasta, beans and carrots.
Classic Italian minestrone soup is a versatile 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.
There aren’t strict rules to follow when making vegetable soup in the Italian style, but some vegetables are essential to the mix — onion, celery, carrot beans, tomatoes and sometimes potatoes.
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, but 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 then tastes even better), but it’s a delicious way to feed a family without a lot of time and expense.
classic italian vegetable minestrone soup
Yield 4 - 6 servings
Easy Italian minestrone is a delicious and healthy homemade vegetable soup to make with pantry staples.
Like all soups, this minestrone tastes great when made a day or two ahead.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped carrots (3 large or 6 small carrots)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 or 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 3 chopped celery stalks
- 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 green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups small dried pasta (elbows, small shells or ditalini)
- 2 cups 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.