Do you love minestrone? This favorite Italian soup is made with fresh seasonal vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes.
There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based soup base (such as chicken stock).
So, what you put in your minestrone is really up to you. Don’t like beans? Leave them out! Love pasta, put some in (we recommend small pasta like ditalini). Minestrone really is all about improvisation.
But where to start? Here is a hearty base minestrone soup recipe, with plenty of white beans, zucchini, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. It’s one of our favorite soups to make for cooling weather. Enjoy!
(Recipe and photos updated, first published 2006)
You can use canned beans (use a good quality brand, I recommend S&W or Bush's) or you can cook dry beans.
If starting with dry beans, soak about 3/4 cup of dry beans overnight in cold water (or pour boiling water over the beans and soak for 1 hour). Drain. Cover with a couple inches of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, or until tender enough to eat. Then drain and use in this recipe as directed.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 cups sliced savoy or curly cabbage
- 1 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 medium fresh ripe tomatoes (romas if available), cored, peeled, chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 15-ounce can of cannellini or great northern white beans, drained (about 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
1 Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic in olive oil: Heat oil in a 4 to 5 quart thick-bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
2 Add herbs, potato, vegetables, stock: Add the bay leaf, thyme, fennel seeds. Add the potato, cabbage, zucchini, and tomatoes. Add the chicken stock.
3 Simmer until vegetables are cooked through: Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
4 Add beans, parsley, salt, pepper: Add the beans and parsley to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.