This is the best minestrone soup recipe, a vegetarian perfect meatless meal. The entire minestrone soup is made from fresh vegetables and herbs so it is great for you too!
The best part about this recipe is that it is completely flexible, you can substitute any veggies you don’t happen to love with your favorite seasonal vegetables or whatever you happen to have on hand.
No matter what you include, this quick and easy authentic Italian minestrone soup served with some crusty bread will become a new family favorite. Even the kids will say how much they love minestrone soup!
What do you need to make this recipe?
This is basically a one-pot dish! This minestrone soup recipe made in a Dutch oven couldn’t be easier to make, it just takes some cleaning and chopping and you will be on your way to a delicious soup that is filling and nutritious.
medium pot for boiling water
large soup pot or large Dutch oven
With a prep time of just 15 minutes and a cooking time of around 40 minutes for the entire soup, you will be ready to serve your hot, comforting minestrone soup in under an hour.
There is really no limit to the ingredients that work in this vegetable soup. Experiment each time with new additions and find your family’s favorite flavor combination.
Extra virgin olive oil (3 tablespoons) – really any good-quality oil is fine, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive bottle.
Onion (1 large) – you can use whatever color onion you prefer, we usually use yellow.
Celery stalk (1) – if you are celery lover you can certainly add more celery just like in the Olive Garden minestrone soup recipe.
Carrots (2) – we prefer peeled carrots that are chopped fairly small.
Potatoes (3) – we love Russet potatoes for this recipe, but really any potatoes will do.
Cauliflower (250 g) – the amazing thing about this recipe is that it works really with any vegetable. You can substitute the cauliflower with broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, spinach, chard, savoy cabbage, butternut squash, yellow squash, green beans, sweet potato or any veggie you love.
Cannellini beans (50 grams) – you need to use already cooked or canned Cannellini white beans for this recipe because they will not have time to cook in the minestrone. Really any bean can work, including white beans, kidney beans or black beans, depending on your personal preference, the important thing is that they are already cooked.
Peas (250 g) – we usually use frozen peas for this recipe and put them in while still frozen.
Zucchini (2) – we prefer to use dark zucchini in this recipe because they hold up better in the soup. You can remove the seeds if they are large.
Tomatoes (3) – if you don’t like the taste of boiled tomatoes, you can substitute with a tablespoon of tomato paste or a 1/2 cup of fire roasted diced tomatoes.
Fresh spinach (50 grams) – you can use baby spinach or larger spinach leaves with the stems removed.
Kale (50 grams) – you can remove the kale “spine” if you prefer and chop into strips or leave the spine and chop the kale lengthwise so each piece has a little of the spine.
Fresh parsley (as desired) – a typical addition to minestrone is either fresh or dried parsley.
Fresh basil (as desired) – this gives a real Mediterranean flavor to the dish, dried basil is also fine to use.
Salt (to taste) – kosher salt or other fine salt works well, our preference is always with sea salt.
Pepper (to taste) – perhaps just a dash of freshly ground pepper for a little extra flavor.
Water, (6-7 cups) – for more taste you can substitute part or all of the water with either vegetable broth (vegetable stock) or chicken broth.
Parmesan cheese (optional) – we love a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top when served.
How to make authentic Italian minestrone step by step
Follow these steps to make the perfect Italian minestrone soup.
Peel and finely mince the onion photo 1-2.
Now wash all the other veggies thoroughly and cut them into 1 cm squares. The cauliflower and/or broccoli should be cut into small florets and the leafy greens should be roughly chopped into bite sized pieces or smaller.
Put a pot of 6-7 cups of water on to boil.
In another larger pot or Dutch oven, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onion, carrot, and celery for 3 minutes photo 3-4.
Next, add the cauliflower and potatoes and let them cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally photo 5-6.
Now add the Cannellini white beans, peas photo 7-8, zucchini , tomatoes photo 9-10, spinach and kale and or any other leafy or soft vegetables you have chosen photo 11-12.
Finally, add the 6 to 7 cups of boiling water, or until the vegetables are completely covered photo 13-14.
Bring the minestrone to a boil over medium heat, then cover with a lid, lower the heat, and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes.
Don’t overcook all the veggies. You want them to remain intact and maintain as much of their color as possible photo 15-16.
At the end of the cooking time, add salt and pepper to taste as well as chopped fresh basil or fresh parsley, as desired photo 17-18.
Serve in individual bowls with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top and a side of crusty bread photo 19-20.
Expert tips for minestrone soup recipe
Don’t overcook the veggies. This is not a soup that you want to boil for hours because, unlike a meat-based soup, this vegetarian recipe calls for fresh veggies that will lose all their nutrition if they are boiled for hours. You want your green zucchini to stay green and your red tomatoes to stay red.
Never cook pasta with the soup. Pasta is a great addition to this recipe, however it should always be cooked and stored separately, if not the pasta will get overcooked and any leftover soup will be ruined with mushy, falling apart pasta floating in it.
Throw in the Parmesan rind. A little trick to making this great recipe even greater is to take the Parmesan cheese rind and remove the very hardest outside layer and put the entire rind into the soup while it is cooking until it turns all melted and gooey. You can then serve a piece of the melted rind with the minestrone, really delicious!
Other soup recipes to try:
If you’ve ever made your own vegetable stock, you know that you can really add any vegetable you have lying around and it will just add more depth and flavor. So get experimenting!
Add beef or chicken broth instead of water. You can substitute beef or chicken stock for part or all of the water called for to give your vegetable minestrone a richer flavor, but obviously the recipe will no longer be vegetarian.
Experiment with different beans. You can substitute with or add canned black beans or kidney beans, which can be an interesting way to mix it up.
Make it spicy. Add red pepper flakes as the end for a delicious spicy soup.
Try different herbs. Once you get the hang of this recipe, you can start experimenting with different flavors such as adding fresh bay leaves (but these should be removed and not eaten), fresh or dried basil, fresh or dried parsley or other fresh herbs. Olive Garden’s recipe even calls for Italian seasoning, which has a mix of all kinds of different dried herbs.
Add pasta or rice to make it filling. You can make this minestrone soup recipe more filling by adding pasta or rice. However, you need to cook the rice or pasta separately. You want to choose a small pasta shape, like elbow pasta or a short grained rice.
Bring water to boil in a medium sized pot, follow the instructions on the back of the pasta package for al dente pasta or the rice package. Add salt to the water and cook as directed. Drain the pasta or rice and put a portion in the bottom of each individual bowl and then fill with minestrone soup and top with freshly grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese or Parmesan cheese.
How can I store minestrone soup?
If you want to keep minestrone leftover soup, let it cool, transfer the soup to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. We do not recommend freezing minestrone soup.
How to reheat minestrone soup
To reheat minestrone soup, transfer into a pot and heat briefly just until it begins to lightly boil. Turn off and serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
What should I serve with minestrone soup?
Minestrone soup can be eaten all on its own, but we love it with a side of crunchy bruschetta or a big crostini Italian toast or with garlic bread straight from the oven.
How can I make olive garden’s minestrone soup?
Olive Garden minestrone soup recipe is not so different from ours, although it does have a few additions such as garlic (2 cloves) and vegetable broth (4 cups). It calls for more celery stalks (6 instead of 1) and has you use 3.5 cups of canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. It also has a 2 cups of canned Great Northern beans and 2 cups of canned kidney beans and a half cup of pasta added. The Olive Garden minestrone soup also leaves out the cauliflower, kale and spinach all together and uses a dash of Italian seasoning. Try this great recipe for dinner tonight!
Authentic Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe
What does minestrone mean and where is it from?
Minestrone originated in Italy, most likely starting in Northern Italy, but it is not possible to be certain. The term “minestra” means soup in Italian and the term “minestrone,” means a big soup. Minestra is a very old word in Italian, already appearing in the 1200s, and derives from the Latin word “minestrare,” which means to serve at the table. It is said that the head of the household ladled out servings of this soup, which led to it being called minestrone.
Minestrone gained popularity hundreds of years ago in Italy as a way to use leftovers or extra vegetables and turn them into a soup with the best flavor. Just about any vegetable can be used to make minestrone soup and you can also add beans and sometimes pasta or rice for more substance and to be more filling.