Minestrone Soup is the best vegetable soup because it’s so versatile! This meatless soup is packed with cannellini beans and all your favorite veggies in a warm tomato broth.
Soup season is my favorite season. Luckily, Minestrone Soup is in season all year long! This simple Italian vegetable soup is easy to make because anything goes!
A simple quick recipe for minestrone soup starts with a tomato sauce and broth base and is filled with fresh vegetables and beans. Since it doesn’t need to simmer all day, it’s perfect for weeknight meals and summertime cooking.
What is Minestrone?
Minestrone soup sounds fancy, but what is it, really? It’s simply an Italian vegetable soup made with a tomato broth.
Traditionally, 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! I use this as a seasonal excuse to clean out my produce drawers.
How Do You Add Flavor to Minestrone Soup?
VEGETABLES: I only use garlic, onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, and green beans. Of course, there are tomatoes in it, but they are not chunky.
I starts with tomato sauce instead of canned tomatoes.
You can always add diced potatoes, hard winter squash like butternut, fresh garden tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, or kale.
BEANS: Canned cannellini beans —aka white kidney 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.
If you have red kidney beans, use them! You can even do a little of both.
If you use dried beans, be sure to soak them first! They’ll soak up all the delicious tomato broth.
PASTA: 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.
How to Make Minestrone Soup from Scratch
- First, sauté the onions in a little olive oil until they’re translucent.
- Then, add the garlic and cook until fragrant before adding the basil, oregano, and celery. Sauté until the celery is slightly softened, too.
- Now, add the carrots, tomato sauce, and chicken broth to the pan. Simmer for at least half an hour.
- Add the green beans and cannellini beans and simmer until they’re tender. Be sure to stir so the bottom doesn’t burn!
- When you’re about 30 minutes from dinner time, add the zucchini and simmer until tender. If you want to cook the pasta in the soup, add it now, too.
- Top it off with a little Parmesan cheese when serving for the best Italian vegetable soup.
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.
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
This vegetable soup is almost vegetarian, but it’s easy to make it completely meat-free and even vegan.
Omit the cheese on the top or use a vegetarian cheese for the top. While most are vegetarian, 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.
How to Use Gluten-Free Pasta
You can always use gluten-free pasta in this recipe.
Be warned: 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 — 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.
How to Store Leftover Soup
I prefer to store the noodles and soup separately so they don’t dissolve in the broth. However, both are good for up to 4 days.
To reheat in a microwave, add soup and pasta to a bowl and cook for about 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.
Keeping the pasta and the soup separate also keeps the pasta from getting overcooked during reheating. You can make minestrone soup without any pasta, too, for an amazingly low-carb vegetable soup.
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 reheating while still frozen. The beans and the zucchini disintegrates during the reheating process.
What to Serve with Minestrone Soup
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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.