Minestrone soup is an Italian classic! This version is made with cannellini beans, chicken stock, cabbage, potato, zucchini, carrots, plum tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.
Photography Credit: Elise Bauer
Do you love minestrone?
This favorite Italian soup is made with fresh seasonal vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes.
There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based soup base (such as chicken stock).
Video! How to Make Minestrone Soup
When it comes to minestrone, improvise!
So, what you put in your minestrone is really up to you. Don’t like beans? Leave them out. Love pasta? Put some in (we recommend small pasta like ditalini). Minestrone really is all about improvisation.
But where to start? Here is a hearty base minestrone soup recipe, with plenty of white beans, zucchini, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. It’s one of our favorite soups to make when the weather turns cool.
How to Store and Freeze Minestrone
Minestrone leftovers can be refrigerated for about a week and reheated either in the microwave or over low heat on the stove top.
The soup also freezes fairly well, though the vegetables tend to be softer after freezing and reheating. Note that pasta does not freeze well, so if you’re planning on adding some, it’s best to freeze the soup without the pasta and then add it after thawing and reheating.
From the editors of Simply Recipes
To Add Pasta or Not to Add Pasta?
This recipe doesn’t call for pasta, but it can make minestrone extra hearty. Use small pasta like ditalini, but macaroni works in a pinch. About one cup of uncooked pasta is a good amount.
So, when do you add pasta to minestrone? If you want everything to cook in one pot, about 10 minutes into simmering the vegetables in Step 3. You’ll probably need to add 1-2 more cups liquid bit by bit, since the pasta will absorb some.
For more control over doneness, boil the pasta separately in stock or water, then drain and add to the finished soup.
As leftovers sit, pasta absorbs broth and gets soft. To keep this from happening, boil it separately, drain, and add the cooked pasta as needed when you serve the soup. It’s best to freeze the soup with no pasta; add it after thawing and reheating.
What to Serve with Minestrone Soup?
You can’t go wrong with crusty bread. And a big dollop of pesto floated on each bowl right at serving time is heavenly! If you want more meat, try adding Italian sausages to the soup, or have them on the side.
Check out our other minestrone recipes
Updated November 9, 2020 : We spiffed up this post with a new video to help you make the best minestrone ever. No changes to the recipe. Enjoy!
Minestrone Soup Recipe
You can use canned beans (use a good quality brand, I recommend S&W or Bush’s) or you can cook dry beans.
If starting with dry beans, soak about 3/4 cup of dry beans overnight in cold water (or pour boiling water over the beans and soak for 1 hour). Drain. Cover with a couple inches of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, or until tender enough to eat. Then drain and use in this recipe as directed.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 cups sliced savoy or curly cabbage
1 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 medium fresh ripe tomatoes (romas if available), cored, peeled, chopped
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
1 15-ounce can cannellini or great northern white beans, drained (about 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
1 Sauté the vegetables: Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
Add the bay leaf, thyme, fennel seeds. Add the potato, cabbage, zucchini, and tomatoes. Add the chicken stock.
3 Simmer the soup: Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
4 Finish the soup: Add the beans and parsley to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.
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Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family’s recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.
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