Vegetarian Minestrone Soup That’s Worth The Prep Work

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup That’s Worth The Prep Work

Minestrone soup is considered one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine.  Historically, minestrone was a humble soup, made primarily from leftovers with the addition of whatever vegetables were available, often with the addition of pasta.  This soup was inexpensive, easy to make, filling, and could feed large groups.  It was a soup intended for everyday and as a main course, not a starter.

What I love about minestrone in particular is that there is no “set recipe” for this hearty classic. This is why you see so much variation.  Made with or without meat, pasta, beans and with variation in broth, you have lots of room for interpretation.

vegetarian minestrone soup

I was taught how to make this classic soup when I was working as a line chef in New York.  Even then, we used leftovers because a kitchen—which operates on razor-thin margins—can’t afford to waste anything. Traditional technique for making soup calls for all vegetables to be roughly the same size, so they cook evenly.  That right there takes time.   When I learned to make minestrone, I made large quantities at a time.
Despite having decent knife skills, I lacked the time to cut everything evenly.  I always used a mandolin, which is my most loved and feared kitchen tool.  I say this because mandolins are amazing and helpful, but I sustained one of my worst kitchen-related injuries using one.  After I stopped working as a line chef, I stopped making minestrone soup for many years, the injury was too vivid.  But that was years ago, my boys now enjoy a larger variety of vegetables, and so I’m back making this wonderful Italian soup once again.  I make mine vegetarian and like to use a piece of Parmesan rind to give it a richer flavor.
vegetarian minestrone soup
In this recipe I prefer to use dried beans and use a quick soak method to reduce the prep time considerably. You can use a canned bean, but I think you lose some flavor and texture in doing so, as the beans tend to break down more.  I also prefer a small ditalini pasta instead of an orzo, but that is simply personal preference.  This is a great, healthy soup that is just perfect for a cold winter weekend evening.

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

December 1, 2017
: 6
: 1 hr
: 40 min
: 1 hr 40 min
: medium


  • 2 cups dried Great Northern beans
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, small dice
  • 3 celery stalks, small dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 large zucchini, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and small dice
  • 1 (2-inc) piece Parmesan rind
  • 1 cup cooked Ditalini pasta
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, for garnish
  • Step 1 For the beans: For a “quick soak” rinse the beans, place in a medium-size stock pot and cover with water by two-inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to sit in the water for 1 hour. While beans are soaking, prep your vegetables and cook your pasta.
  • Step 2 Place a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when hot, but not smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery, sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 3 Next, sdd the garlic and zucchini and cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and stir well. Add the tomatoes, stock, potatoes, beans and parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes and bean are tender.
  • Step 4 Stir in the cooked pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the spinach and adjust the seasoning as needed and cook for a few minutes longer to allow the spinach to wilt.
  • Step 5 To serve the soup, garnish with chopped basil. Note: If you do not serve the soup right away, hold off on adding the pasta and spinach until later.  Also, when re-heating the soup add 1/2-3/4 cup water to help thin it out a bit if needed, just be sure to readjust the seasoning if you do so.

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