I always crave this easy minestrone soup recipe, especially during the winter season. My Italian family recipe is not only delicious and simple to make, but thanks to the ingredients we use, it’s a hearty vegetable-based soup that will satisfy everyone.
When it’s soup season, look no further than this delicious minestrone soup!
Italian Winter Minestrone Soup
Yep! That’s me enjoying my minestrone soup! Proof that this recipe is truly from my kitchen.
Minestrone is more common in the mid and southern parts of Italy vs the northern regions. The original recipe I have is from my grandmother who migrated from the Lazio region of Italy which is located between Rome and Naples. I made a few tweaks over the years to accommodates preferences in our household.
The term winter minestrone soup has gained popularity from a popular celebrity on the Food Network – Ina Garten. I admit her recipe looks nice, but it uses a ton of ingredients and just isn’t a quick and easy soup. So my version of a winter minestrone soup is in my opinion, well… just better and more authentic.
Specifically, she uses pancetta (but minestrone is authentically meatless), and she uses butternut squash – something my Italian grandmother and grandfather would never have done. But hey… we’re not in the 1930s anymore…
What is Minestrone Soup
As is the case with many Italian soups, minestrone is flexible in which ingredients to add, making it a terrific soup for vegetarians, vegans or anyone who enjoys a hearty Italian vegetable soup.
This is the authentic way to make minestrone soup which is literally, a vegetable soup. I think it’s the best Italian minestrone soup recipe out there…of course I’m not biased! 😊
It uses lots of chopped vegetables, simple fresh herbs (or dried) and canned beans such as cannellini beans. I don’t use dried beans in this recipe. It is not a blended soup, which means you simply chop everything and cook it together in a heavy large pot or large dutch oven.
This is a great soup for when feeling sick or under the weather. Just like my easy Italian pastina soup, this recipe is a comforting soup that Italians all love.
PRO TIP: There is no one set recipe since the Italians usually just use whatever they have on hand. This makes it super flexible. For example, my grandmother’s recipe uses green beans, but this is something I don’t always have on hand, so I often omit it.
- Extra virgin olive oil. This is for creating the stock, but helps with flavor too.
- Carrots. The more carrots you use the sweeter the soup will be. 2 large carrots will make it sweet, so use only 1 to cut it back a bit.
- Vegetable broth or water. You can use either. If you use water as I do, you’ll create your own stock with the vegetables we use. Be careful that you do not use a store bought brand that uses herbs you don’t like.
Personal Insight: My grandmother never bought pre-made broth back in the day. Instead she made the stock while making the soup. My mother always did the same thing, and so, likewise, I carry on the tradition.
- Celery. This is very important for any kind of minestrone soup. Use the celery stalk and the leaves.
- Garlic Cloves
- Onion. You can use white or yellow onion.
- Chopped tomatoes. You can use canned tomatoes or fresh. Keep the juices of both the can or fresh tomatoes.
- Cannellini beans. These are the best kind I like to use. I explain a bit more about variations later in my post.
- Potatoes. You can use any type of potato such as russet potato, red potato or yukon.
- Parsley. You can use dried or fresh parsley, either is fine.
- Dash of salt and black pepper. If you’re using a broth that has high sodium you can omit the salt. Otherwise, you’ll need it since we’re creating our own stock.
- Romano cheese (optional, but adds a nice touch at the end). My sister who is 99% vegan uses a vegan Parmesan cheese which tastes really good.
- Ditalini (optional). You don’t have to use pasta in this soup, but it is one way to bulk it up.
How to Make Minestrone Soup (Summary)
If it’s hard or difficult, you can “fuh-get it“. This recipe is very easy. Here’s how it’s made in a nutshell.
How much time is needed?
This delicious soup doesn’t take long as a whole. You have the prep time of chopping all the ingredients about 20 minutes, and then letting the soup cook over low-medium heat for approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
My step by step instructions are below but in general you do the following:
- Prepare the vegetables
- Saute the vegetables in some olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat stirring frequently.
- Add them to a pot of boiling water or broth and cook over low-medium heat for 45+ minutes.
If using ditalini in the soup, cook separately and add to individual serving bowls. Stir in some cheese at the end or serve on the side to accommodate anyone sensitive to dairy.
How much does this recipe make?
This soup recipe will make two quarts. This is enough for about 6 servings of soup.
Detailed Step by Step Instructions
Exact measurements are in the recipe card below.
1. Start by chopping your carrots, celery, and onions into small diced cubes, about 1/4″ in size. The smaller they are the more quickly they’ll cook and flavor the soup.
2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add in the chopped garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant.
4. Add in the chopped vegetables you prepped in step 1. Lower the heat to low-medium and saute until soft and onions are translucent. This will take about 10 minutes.
PRO TIP: I like to cover the pot with a lid to create more steam. This helps speed up the process of softening the vegetables.
5. Add in the water or broth, tomatoes, canned beans, chopped potatoes pieces, parsley, and any other vegetables you want to add in.
6. Stir and bring the soup to a boil, then lower the temperature to simmer and cook with the lid slightly covered (to allow steam out) for about 45 minutes. The longer the soup cooks, the more flavor it will have. Taste test to ensure it’s how you like it. I’ve cooked it well over an hour before.
7. If using pasta noodles such as ditalini, cook these separately, drain and set aside. Then when ready to serve the soup, add a scoop of the ditalini to each bowl. Serve in pasta bowls or soup bowls topped with cheese.
One nice thing about minestrone soup is that you can be very flexible and creative with whatever vegetables you want to use based on what you like, or what you have on hand. This is common in Italian cooking and in previous generations where vegetables that were grown in the garden were added to the soup.
Whatever you had in season is what you used. My grandmother from Italy used whatever she had including noodles, beans, green beans, or other hearty vegetables from the garden.
Common ingredients found in this Italian minestrone soup are:
- Bay leaf
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- White beans
- Kale or swiss chard
- Dry white wine
- Tomato paste for extra tomatoey flavor
PRO TIP: Quick note about the canned beans. Traditional minestrone soup uses one type of bean, not a mix of different beans. Once you start adding various beans to the soup you will end up with pasta fagioli soup.
If Your Soup is Too Thin or Weak
Since we’re making our own stock for the soup, there are different factors that can cause the soup to be too thin or too weak in flavor.
The soup can be as complex as you’d like or as basic, but the key to many soups like this is the quality of ingredients. If you find the soup too runny or weak, try these tips:
- add more herbs
- add a can of tomatoes or even tomato paste
- add in a few more cans of beans
- add some more salt and pepper
- cook the soup down with the lid off so the flavors can grow more intense.
Tips for Serving Minestrone Soup
Minestrone soup can be served in either shallow pasta bowls or deep soup bowls. If using minestrone soup as part of your Italian Christmas day dinner, I’d recommend decorative Italian pasta bowls and serve with homemade easy Italian garlic bread.
Sometimes I’ll toast up some thick slices of authentic Italian bread and place them on the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top.
Other times, I just dip the bread in the hearty soup.
It’s always nice to let everyone top their own minestrone with how much cheese they want. I always use Romano but you may prefer Parmesan.
Is Minestrone Soup Healthy?
It is not a cream-based soup so therefore won’t have the calorie laden ingredients from sources such as milk, cream and cheese often found in other soups.
Since it is not a cream based soup and has vegetables as its main ingredient, yes, it is a healthy soup as long as you don’t load it up with bad fats and calories.
My recipe also calls for making our own broth or vegetable stock which helps us control the amount of sodium in the soup. Store bought low sodium broth usually has no flavor in my experience so I prefer to add my own Himalayan salt.
Is it Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly?
Minestrone soup is vegetarian as long as you don’t add any ingredients that contain meat such as beef or chicken broth. Some people will fry bacon and use it in the soup (like Ina Garten using pancetta), however I do not do this. Some recipes will call for chicken broth for added flavor but this is not necessary.
Vegetarian – check
Minestrone soup does not need to use meat and can easily be considered a vegetarian soup.
You can bulk it up with as many vegetables as you’d like and have a wonderful hearty dish.
Vegan – check, but only if…
Minestrone soup can also be vegan by further removing any dairy, since that is technically an animal produced product. Vegans only eat plant based foods and therefore to make a vegan minestrone soup, you need to ensure that only plant based ingredients are used.
When I made this recipe for my sister who is on a strict vegan diet for health reasons, she used a vegan parmesan cheese from the local grocery store and it tasted great.
How to Store Minestrone Soup
You can store your minestrone in the fridge for 3-5 days in an air tight container. I like to use glass jars and seal them when the soup is still a little warm (not hot). This seems to provide a better seal.
The soup can also be stored in freezer-safe airtight containers for 3 to 6 months for best freshness, although I’ve stored soup much longer.
What Goes with Winter Minestrone Soup
Here are some recipes that you may like with your soup. For a full list, visit my post for what to serve with minestrone.
A traditional simple Romano pizza can be served with minestrone.
Soup and salad is always a nice mix, so why not with this recipe? Try a simple Italian tossed green salad.
Try serving it with some crunchy homemade easy Italian garlic bread. This recipe uses store bought baguettes that you season yourself.
Similar Soup Recipes
If you enjoyed this soup recipe, you may also enjoy these other soups.
This creamy vegan Italian blended chickpea soup is great for warmer seasons.
If you love cannellini beans, you’ll love my easy Italian cannellini bean soup!
Looking for more healthy soups? Try my Italian kale soup! My husband makes it for me every time I get sick.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for my version of Winter Minestrone Soup. Did you find it easy to make and delicious?
I’d love to hear how you made this recipe your own so please feel welcome to leave a comment down below. Do you have any family traditions you’d like to share?
I hope you enjoy!
Minestrone Soup Recipe
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium carrots chopped fine This will equal approx. 1 1/4 cups
- 2-3 celery stalks chopped fine with the leaves This will equal approx. 1/4 cup
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 medium potatoes chopped into 1/2" cubes This will equal approx. 2 cups
- 1 onion chopped fine This will equal approx. 2 cups
- 1/8 tsp dash of salt and pepper
- 2 tsp dried parsley or 1/2 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
- 1 16 oz. canned chopped tomatoes w/ juices or use fresh
- 1 16 oz. canned cannellini beans w/ juices rinse beans before adding to soup
- 6 cups water or vegetable broth This recipe assumes you're using water.
- 2 cups ditalini or other small tubular pasta optional
- 3 Tbsp grated Romano or Parmesan cheese for topping
- Pour 2 Tablespoons or so of olive oil in large pot and heat over medium heat.2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Add in the minced garlic and saute 2 minutes or until fragrant2-3 garlic cloves minced
- Add and saute chopped vegetables until soft over low-med heat (about 10 minutes). Cover with lid to reduce this to about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.2 medium carrots chopped fine, 2-3 celery stalks chopped fine with the leaves, 1 onion chopped fine
- Once the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender, add in the liquid (water) for the broth, along with the remaining ingredients except the cheese.2 medium potatoes chopped into 1/2" cubes, 1/8 tsp dash of salt and pepper, 2 tsp dried parsley, 1 16 oz. canned chopped tomatoes w/ juices, 1 16 oz. canned cannellini beans w/ juices, 6 cups water or vegetable broth
- Cook over low heat for about 45 minutes or until potatoes and all ingredients are tender.
- Cook ditalini separately, drain and set aside if soup is not yet done. Add to individual soup bowls.2 cups ditalini or other small tubular pasta
- Top minestrone with cheese and serve while hot.
You can learn more about me and how I fell in love with Italian cooking here.