Minestrone soup is an easy-to-make classic that’s flavorful and veggie-rich. It’s a must-have recipe for those chilly nights or for a quick dinner.
For my meat lovers, you can add chicken to this dish if you prefer. However, for this recipe, I use either garbanzo or cannellini beans for added plant protein.
MINESTRONE SOUP IS A HEARTY ITALIAN SOUP PACKED WITH VEGGIES AND PLANT-BASED PROTEIN.
Classic minestrone soup contains veggies, pasta/rice, beans, and broth. Unlike, some soups minestrone is dairy-free ⎯ using only broth and water as its base. I also love the versatility of this soup as you can use either pasta shells or rice and add a variety of vegetables. You can also completely omit the beans or add additional meat. Minestrone is flexible, easy to make, and hard to mess up.
What’s In Minestrone Soup?
With the flexibility of minestrone soup, you really can’t go wrong with what you add. For instance, depending on the time of year, I may use frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach from our garden or from the store. I’ve also sometimes forgotten to purchase a zucchini and have added green beans instead. Go with what you have on hand and what your family prefers.
In general, this is the standard recipe I use when making minestrone soup:
Vegetables: You’ll need diced tomatoes, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, zucchini, and spinach.
Protein: One 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). You can also use cannellini. And for my meat lovers, chicken works well with this soup.
Soup Base: I usually use chicken broth but you can use veggie broth or bone broth as well. You’ll also add 4 cups of water.
Spices: Minestrone soup wouldn’t have that classic minestrone taste without Italian seasoning. You’ll also add salt, pepper, and a bay leaf.
How To Make The Best Minestrone Soup
Minestrone soup is super flexible and hard to mess up. However, here are a few tips and three simple steps to get you on the right path.
STEP ONE: PREP THE INGREDIENTS
You’ll chop a small white onion, slice celery, finely chop carrots, and mince garlic. You’ll want to drain and rinse the garbanzo beans, rinse the spinach if using fresh, cut a zucchini in half, and then slice it. For the spices, you’ll need a tablespoon of Italian seasoning, a bay leaf, two teaspoons of sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
STEP TWO: COOK VEGGIES AND ADD SPICES
In a large soup stockpot over medium heat, you’ll cook the onion, carrots, and celery until the onion is translucent. Next, you’ll add the Italian seasoning and bay leaf and cook for about 30 seconds. Finally, stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for about 30 more seconds.
STEP THREE: COMBINE ALL THE INGREDIENTS
You’ll add a carton or 32-ounces of low sodium chicken broth (can also use vegetable or bone broth). Stir in 4 cups of filtered water, garbanzo beans, and add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil. Then add one cup of pasta shells.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and allow the pasta to cook for about 10 minutes before adding the zucchini. Cook for another 5 minutes and finally add spinach (either fresh or frozen). Cook for about a minute or two. Turn off the heat and stir in one tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND MODIFICATIONS
Minestrone soup is very flexible and comes together quickly. Below are some ideas on substitutions and modifications you can make:
- Use brown rice or orzo in place of pasta shells. If you choose to go with rice or orzo be sure to cook separately and add to the final dish.
- Use cannellini beans in place of garbanzo beans. You can also completely omit the beans if you’d like. However, they are a great source of plant-based protein.
- Swap chicken broth for vegetable or bone broth. All work well in this soup.
- Add kale in place of spinach. You can use fresh or frozen.
- Add additional vegetables. You can always add more vegetables if you’d like to create a vegetable-heavy soup. Green beans are an example of an additional vegetable that works well in minestrone.
- Need grain-free? Add about 1/2 of a chopped sweet potato in place of the pasta or rice.
- Don’t have Italian seasoning? No problem. You can substitute with 1 teaspoon each of dried basil, dried thyme, and dried oregano.
How Long Can You Store Minestrone?
Minestrone soup will keep in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. We sometimes like to put it in mason jars and freeze it. You can freeze the soup for up to 4 months when properly stored.
Looking For Other Healthy Soup, Stew, Or Chili Ideas?
For more healthy dinner options, check out these additional recipes:
- Creamy Asparagus Soup (Dairy-Free)
- White Chicken Chili Recipe (Healthy & Easy Dinner)
- Greek Lemon Chicken With Orzo Soup
- Recipe For Green Chili Stew With Chicken (New Mexico Style)
Quick, Healthy Minestrone Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, finely cubed
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 32 ounce carton of low sodium chicken, veggie, or bone broth.
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 1 cup whole wheat medium pasta shells (or 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice or orzo)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (I use Redmond's Real Salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 zucchini, halved and sliced into half moons
- 1 12 ounce bag frozen spinach (or 16 ounces of fresh spinach, rinsed)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on the stove on medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in Italian seasoning, bay leaf, and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds then add in diced tomatoes. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, stirring everything together.
- Add broth, water, garbanzo beans, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add pasta shells, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes. (If using rice, cook separately and add to the soup once done).
- Add zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, add spinach and cook for two more minutes. Turn off heat and stir in red wine vinegar. Serve and enjoy!