Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Homemade Minestrone Soup (Vegetarian)

I used to love Progresso's Minestrone Soup when I was a kid. It was so hearty with lots of vegetables, beans, and pasta, in a delicious tomato broth. As I have gotten older, I have lost my fondness for canned soups, but not my fondness for minestrone. This minestrone soup recipe incorporates traditional flavors with fresh vegetables and herbs. Seems a bit silly to be writing a post on soup when it is supposed to be 90 degrees for the next three days, but when I made this recipe it was gloomy and rain was in the forecast. I love taking the time to make a big pot of soup, it is no more work than making a small batch, and you have enough to go around for a few meals. I package it up in quart containers to freeze or share with others.

I keep my minestrone soup vegetarian, but there are recipes that incorporate bacon or pancetta fat. Because I was making a large batch, I shared some with vegetarian family members. I also wanted to serve this for dinner on Meatless Monday. To boost the flavor, I spiced things up with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

For this recipe, the measurements are close approximations to what I used. Often when I am making soups, I will take the vegetables that I have on hand to create something delicious. Feel free to add or substitute vegetables based on what you have on hand, or you enjoy. Some suggestions: Zucchini, summer squash, potato, swiss chard... you get the idea!

Minestrone Soup (Vegetarian)
Makes 4 quarts


  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup celery sliced
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons
   Canned Goods
  • 3 cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
Herbs and Seasonings:
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  •  Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 quarts water or vegetable stock
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1/2 pound small pasta shapes (I used small seashells)
I don't have a problem using canned tomato products when tomatoes aren't at the peak of ripeness. I would rather spend less money on a few cans of diced tomatoes than more money on almost flavorless Roma tomatoes from the grocery store and prepare them myself. I also use canned beans all the time for the convenience of them, but I make sure to rinse them well before using. If you are concerned about sodium content, you can look for low-sodium varieties of tomatoes and beans.

  1. Prepare the vegetables as directed above. You want your vegetables to be uniform in size so they cook evenly. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Sweat the onions, garlic and half the chili flakes with a teaspoon of kosher salt until fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, cauliflower and let caramelize.
  3. Chop the oregano, thyme, and rosemary, then add to the pot with the bay leaf. Add the tomatoes and the rinsed beans, and water or stock. Season with salt or pepper (If using water, you will need to season a little more aggressively.)
  4. Let it come to a boil, parmesan cheese rind and then simmer for about an hour for flavors to develop. After 20 minutes, add the kale and taste for seasoning. If you find that you want more zip, add the remaining red pepper flakes.
  5. I cook my pasta separately and add before serving, so it doesn't drink up too much of the broth and become mushy, especially when freezing or reheating. Just cook the pasta in salted water to 1 minute less than al dente, then rinse with cold water and toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. I store my pasta in a container next to my soup in the fridge, and toss in a handful before reheating.
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This soup is great right out of the pot, but will get better as the flavors are allowed to meld in the refrigerator overnight. Try this soup the next time the weather is gloomy or stormy, its bound to put a smile on you face!


  1. ok - this looks like a ton of work...but I'm a sucker for Minestrone! I am going to try this Sunday!

    1. Oops, that was supposed to be a reply! (Stupid iPad!)...
      There are a lot of ingredients, but it is mostly chop and drop, then let it simmer away. To really maximize flavor make sure you are seasoning along the way, and make sure to taste your food. We loved this soup the next day, and if you are watching carbs/gluten you can omit the pasta all together!

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  3. I love minestrone soup so will try this recipe :) Thank you for sharing

  4. Fantastically Fresh idea!! Love it!!! Can't wait to try it!


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