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The Best Minestrone Soup Recipe {How Italians Make It}

The Best Minestrone Soup Recipe {How Italians Make It}

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This thick, hearty, melt-in-the-mouth Minestrone Soup is the ultimate “comfort food” for any time of the year.

Italian Minestrone soup is made with seasonal veggies, legumes and small pasta shape or rice.

The beauty of this soup is that you can make it a hundred times and have it taste different every time you make it.

For this reason there’s no a set recipe for Italian minestrone soup but rather some basic concepts of choosing and cooking veggies, legumes and pasta.

Depending on the season, your local farm’s market availability and your personal taste preferences your vegetable selection will be different almost each time you make minestrone.

But regardless of this here are some of the key step and ingredients you don’t want to miss.

Italian Secrets To Making The Best Minestrone Soup

  • Always start making minestrone with Onion, Carrot and Celery mix – known as Soffritto or a Holy Trinity of Italian Cuisine. Most soups and ragu sauces start with this veggie trio. All other flavors build up on this.
  • Even though you can use just any leftover veggies you have in the fridge, true secret to delicious Grandma minestrone soup lies in fresh veggies from Sunday farmer’s market.
  • If you’re not planning to consume all the soup in one go, cook pasta in a separate pot instead of cooking it directly in the soup pot.
    Add it to your minestrone (just to the part you’re going to consume immediately) before serving.
    Otherwise pasta will become overcooked and make minestrone too mushy.
    Same applies for rice and other grains like farro, barley (orzo) etc.
  • Once all the hard veggies and water or broth are in the pot, add a piece of Parmesan cheese rind. Yes, just the rind. It’s a game changer. And most well kept secret (just kidding). Seriously though, it burst the flavor of veggies and broth 10x.
    Simmer the veggies with Parmesan rind and finish cooking Minestrone as normally. Take out the rind before serving.
Minestrone Soup in a Dutch Oven

Minestrone Soup Ingredients

Base Vegetables

  • Onions – you can use shallots or leek as an alternative.
  • Carrots – just regular carrots.
  • Celery – and regular celery.
  • Garlic (optional) – I like to add whole piece crushed with flat knife to let it release flavor but not overpowering with a strong garlic taste if you mince it.
  • Pancetta (optional) – since minestrone is a vegetable soup it’s a perfect meal for lent. So pancetta, guanciale or lard cut in cubes is completely optional, but it gives an incredible rich, intense flavor to the veggies as if they were cooked in meat stock (which by the way is also an option).

This base mix is nothing else than a slightly extended version of classic Italian Soffritto, which is also the base for many other traditional Italian dishes.

The only difference, which is influenced a lot by a personal preference, is that when making Minestrone Soup I like a slightly chunkier cut as opposed to fine dice soffritto cut in all other recipes.

Hard Vegetables

  • Potato – is always in season
  • Tomatoes – any kind of tomatoes will do. You can also use good quality canned tomatoes.
  • Pumpkin or Butternut Squash – available during cold season
  • Broccoli or Cauliflower – available during cold season. I suggest to use cruciferous veggies in moderation due to their strong taste. Just a couple of florets will do for a pot for 4 servings.
  • Artichokes – winter/spring time
  • Zucchini – spring/summer time
  • Green Beans – spring/summer time
  • Bell pepper- spring/summer time. Like to broccoli and cauliflower, use in moderation to not overpower other vegetables.
  • Asparagus – spring time
  • Peas – you’d normally use frozen peas so you can use them all year round but you can totally use fresh peas during spring/summer time.

Leafy Vegetables

Anything goes that you can find fresh. Frozen would be your last choice but still possible.

Savoy cabbage, chard, chicory, spinach, escarole, kale just to name a few.

Legumes

Beans – Borlotti beans or cranberry beans are most common to be used in minestrone. But they can be easily substituted with kidney beans, navy beans, more delicate canellini beans or fava beans. Use canned beans or dried re-hydrated beans.

Chickpeas – canned or dried re-hydrated garbanzo beans.

Pasta/ Rice/ Grains

Pasta is the last thing you add to minestrone soup. Also, if you’re not going to consume all the soup in one go, I highly recommend cooking some pasta in a separate pot and adding it just to the part you’re going to consume immediately. Otherwise pasta will make minestrone way too mushy.

Same applies for rice and other grains like farro, barley (orzo) etc.

A Bowl of Minestrone Soup

How To Make Italian Minestrone Soup – Step By Step

  • In a large pot add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, roughly chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic clove, and pancetta cubes.
    Saute on medium heat for a few minutes stirring a couple of times in the process.
  • Add potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs and a couple of pinches of salt.
  • Give a nice stir and add enough water (or broth) to cover all the veggies.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes. Add more liquid if needed. 
  • Past this time veggies will become super soft and will “melt” one into another creating delicious creamy texture.
  • Once veggies are cooked add chopped savoy cabbage or other leafy greens and drained canned beans. Add more water if needed.
  • Give a nice stir and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • As a last step, add pasta or rice. Let cook for 5-15 more minutes depending on how long pasta or rice will take to cook.

If you’re not planning to serve minestrone right away, don’t add pasta or rice immediately.

Instead, bring the soup to a boil when you’re ready to serve it and then add pasta or rice.

Minestrone is ready to serve when pasta (rice) is cooked. I takes about 5-6 minutes for ditalini pasta and about 15 minutes for rice.

Can I prepare Italian Minestrone Soup in advance?

Yes! In fact, minestrone tastes best when it’s rested. Just remember to add pasta/grains as the last step before serving.

Can I freeze Minestrone?

Short answer is Yes. 

BUT,  please don’t, unless you really have to.

Remember about grandma’s secret to the most delicious Minestrone soup?

Minestrone Soup

Italian Minestrone Soup

Nothing says more “comfort food” than thick, creamy Minestrone Soup.
Italian Minestrone soup is made with seasonal veggies, legumes and small pasta shape or rice.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion , roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots , roughly chopped
  • 2-3 selery ribs , roughly chopped
  • ½ cup diced pancetta (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup pumpkin or butternut squash , cut in cubes
  • 1 large potato or 1 ½ cup potatoes , cut in cubes
  • 1 large tomato chopped or 10 cherry tomatoes , cut in quarters
  • 1 small savoy cabbage , roughly chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) borlotti beans
  • cup ditalini pasta or other small pasta shape
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, roughly chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic clove, and pancetta cubes. Sautee on medium heat for a few minutes stirring a couple of times in the process.
  • Add potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs and a couple of pinches of salt.
  • Give a nice stir and add enough water to cover all the veggies.
    Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.
  • Past this time veggies will become super soft and will “melt” one into another creating delicious creamy texture.
  • Once veggies are cooked add chopped savoy cabbage or other leafy greens and drained canned beans. Add more water if needed. Give a nice stir and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • As a last step, add pasta or rice. Let cook for 5-15 more minutes depending on how long pasta or rice will take to cook.
  • If you’re not planning to serve minestrone right away, don’t add pasta or rice immediately.
    Instead, bring the soup to a boil when you’re ready to serve it and then add pasta or rice.
  • Minestrone is ready to serve when pasta (rice) is cooked. I takes about 5-6 minutes for ditalini pasta and about 15 minutes for rice.
  • Serve hot or warm generously topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!
Minestrone Soup in a bowl with Parmesan Cheese

Buon Appetito!

Recipe Rating




Marianna Addabbo

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

DELICIOUS! RECIPE IS EASY TO FOLLOW.

Irish married to an Italian

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Awesome recipe! Wonderful explanation of what ingredients to use with the seasons. Loved the slow introduction of vegetables to make a proper broth without having to add a store bought one. Thank you!

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 14th of January 2021

You're so welcome! I'm happy you found my Minestrone recipe useful. Italian men love it! :)

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Joe Calabria

Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

I'm very lucky to have found your website. I found lots of familiar traditional recipes from the past that I will be sending to my grandchidren to refresh their memories of the sessions we had together where I taught them my families version of these wonderful dishes. The version of minestrone that was my favorite was made with by my grandmother with turnips and kale... my mother always added spicy Italian sausage and substituted finoccio for celery.

Italian Recipe Book

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Thank you Joe for your kind words. This is the very reason my this website exists. To preserve and share food memories and childhood tastes that bring people together. Love the idea of substituting finocchio for celery. I have to try it next time I make Minestrone soup, especially that it's now in season.