Minestrone Soup

This minestrone soup is an updated Italian classic made with in the old-fashioned way with the usual carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, kale, zucchini, beans, and pasta…along with an unexpected drizzle of pesto that transforms a frugal veggie-bin catch-all into something that’s truly astounding.

Three bowls of minestrone soup and a small bowl of pesto.

Minestrone is such a versatile soup. It is basically an assortment 
of vegetables, some sort of bean and pasta. In Liguria, minestrone 
is topped with pesto. This is a Ligurian version with borlotti beans, 
other regions use cannellini or white beans. This version uses mostly 
winter vegetables; try it in the spring with asparagus and broad beans. 
In the summer, try it chilled.

 –Julia Azzarello

What makes vegetable soup into minestrone?

Minestrone is a vegetable soup, strictly speaking, but it’s better. The addition of beans and pasta bulks up minestrone in a way that other soup falls short. Think of it as veggie soup plus.

Minestrone Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
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In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil.

Add the onion, carrot, celery, and potato, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Tester tip: If your vegetables stick to the saucepan, toss in a splash of water.

Add the garlic and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and water or stock and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Add the borlotti or cannellini beans, pasta, green beans, and kale, and cook until the beans, pasta, and vegetables are tender, adding more stock or water if a thinner consistency is desired, about 12 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divvy the soup among 4 bowls and stir a tablespoon of pesto into each portion to swirl. Serve right away. And accept accolades on how darn lovely something so exceptionally healthy can be. Originally published June 18, 2019.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This minestrone soup was everything we wanted it to be—chock full of vegetables, filling, and delicious. We absolutely loved every bite of this soup and look forward to making it again.

It required a lot of chopping but was otherwise simple and straightforward. It’s also easily customizable to your tastes. My partner isn’t a huge fan of green beans so we will definitely substitute asparagus next time. We couldn't find borlotti beans but cannellini beans were a good substitute. I couldn't find tiny shells and used tiny bow ties (farfalline) instead, which were so cute. I think any tiny pasta would work. I used mostly vegetable stock with a little water.

The pesto truly takes the soup to a whole new level and brings it all together.

I think I might have appreciated this minestrone soup a bit more if it were a cold blustery day, but it was 83° and sunny. And I still thought it was fairly tasty. It was quite light and flavorful and would be good for your vegetarian guests.

I prepared the soup in a 5-quart Dutch oven. I used vegetable stock along with borlotti beans. The pasta definitely made the soup thick and I added another 1/2 cup stock. We used Trader Joe's pesto. The pesto is a definite "must.” Without it, the soup is too bland. A bit more salt and maybe some red pepper flakes would also be good.

In the future, I'd prepare the pasta separately until it was done and then add it to the soup.


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