A simple quick recipe for minestrone soup starts with a tomato sauce and broth base and is filled with fresh vegetables and beans. This Italian vegetable soup with a short simmer time doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Perfect for weeknight meals and summertime cooking.
We only use garlic, onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, and green beans. Of course, there are tomatoes in it, but they are not chunky. It starts with tomato sauce instead of canned tomatoes.
Spinach makes an appearance on occasion, but not as often as it probably should, we need to be eating more vegetables.
Just about any vegetable can be added. Originally this soup was made with whatever vegetables were seasonal. It has been called poor man’s soup by some and even Italian peasant soup by others. With names like that you can be sure that tons of spare veggies went in!
Some suggested vegetable additions; diced potatoes, hard winter squash like butternut, fresh garden tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, or kale.
If there is some vegetable you don’t like, just leave it out.
Canned cannellini beans are what I use in my soup because it’s convenient. I also use the liquid from the beans to add more liquid to the broth.
Cannellini beans are just white kidney beans, so you could use red kidney beans too.
Using dry beans in this recipe requires pre-cooking of the beans. Don’t try to cook any dry beans in this soup, it will soak up all the broth.
I prefer to use small pasta shells. Small elbow macaroni, pipettes, and ditalini are also fine choices for this soup. In a pinch acini de pepe or orzo could also be used.
Be mindful of the cooking time for the pasta. Orzo can take a lot longer to cook than small shells.
I cook my pasta separately from the soup and add pasta to individual bowls before adding the soup. Cooking the needles separately keep the pasta from becoming overcooked and mushy.
Keeping the pasta and the soup separate also keeps the pasta from getting overcooked during reheating. You can make this without any pasta too.
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Omit the cheese on the top or use a vegetarian cheese for the top. Parmesan cheese is not always vegetarian, it can contain enzymes that came from animal by-products.
Substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Most dried pasta is vegetarian but check the ingredient list to make sure that the pasta does not contain any eggs.
Using Gluten-Free Pasta
Substitute the pasta called for in the recipe with gluten-free pasta. DO NOT cook the gluten-free pasta in the soup! It will disintegrate. Instead, cook the pasta separately and place the cooked pasta into a soup bowl and top with hot soup.
If the gluten-free noodles are going to be hanging out for a bit, it really needs to be coated with either a bit of the soup and stirred to prevent sticking or coated with some olive oil. When I say a bit of the soup, I mean just enough to coat the pasta not enough to continue cooking the pasta.
It’s best if the noodles are used immediately and eaten while the noodles are hot.
Check the ingredients listed on the chicken broth. A few of them out there have added gluten to it. I use the ones actually labeled as gluten-free whenever I am serving this soup for gluten-free guests.
As mentioned above, I store the pasta and soup separately. They are both good for up to 4 days.
To reheat in a microwave, add soup and pasta to a bowl and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir and add another minute if needed.
To reheat on the stovetop, add the soup to a saucepan and cook until hot. Add the pasta and heat for another minute or so or just until the pasta is heated through. Leaving the pasta in the soup for too long will result in mushy or slimy pasta.
The soup can be frozen and stored for up to 3 months. I do not freeze the pasta, instead, I cook new pasta while the soup is reheating.
Thaw completely before attempting to reheat it. I have had very poor luck with reheating while still frozen. The beans and the zucchini disintegrates during the reheating process.
Once thawed, reheat it just like you would refrigerated leftovers.
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- 3 to 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced
- 8 stalks of celery sliced
- 1 large zucchini or 2 medium, cut in half and sliced
- ½ pound fresh green beans trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces or 2 cans drained
- 28 ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 cans cannellini beans UNDRAINED
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp Dried Basil or 1 Tablespoons fresh chopped
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano or 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped
- 1 cup small uncooked Pasta Shells
- Parmesan Cheese
- Swirl olive oil in a pan, sauté onions over medium heat until translucent.
- Add garlic and cook just until garlic is soft.
- Add the basil, oregano, and celery. Cook for a few minutes.
- Add carrots, tomato sauce, and chicken broth.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes, longer is OK too.
- Add the green beans and cannellini beans, with the liquid, and simmer until the green beans are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add the zucchini and pasta about 30 minutes before you want to eat. Simmer until pasta is tender. Or cook the pasta separately and put some into the bowl before serving.
- Sprinkle with grated or shredded Parmesan cheese.