You can stop right here, because this is the absolute perfect recipe for Minestrone Soup. I love it for dinner with crusty bread dipped in olive oil, and I love packing it away for lunch the next day. It's light but still hearty, and the spices are perfectly balanced in the tomato herb broth. It has the classic flavor you love, and you will always be happy to find a pot of leftovers in your fridge.
This is the recipe that I keep coming back to. Since developing this recipe, I have made this pot of minestrone soup an additional 10 times. I feel like the spices are perfectly balanced in the slightly acidic tomato broth, and I find myself craving it all week long. I'm overjoyed to open the fridge and find leftovers the next day. I'm even happy to report that my kids ask for seconds, and their friends who stay for dinner ask if they can take some home for their lunch boxes the next day.
This minestrone soup is really just that good. I'm not even going to pretend that the inspiration for this soup wasn't the Olive Garden one. If you didn't spend most of high school eating soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden, then you are definitely much cooler than me. Regardless, we can all agree that their minestrone soup is the foundation of flavor for all other recipes. (You might like my Ribollita soup, too!)
However, we're bulking our version up with plenty of kidney beans, fresh green beans, and any type of short pasta you love. My version is special because it contains fire-roasted tomatoes and the perfect balance of Italian seasoning and dried basil. It's a great way to put a large zucchini to use, but if it's not zucchini season, use diced potatoes!
This recipe is also vegan, if you omit the Parmesan cheese on top! Here are all of my vegan bean recipes, by the way.
What you'll need for this Minestrone Soup Recipe
- Olive Oil. For sautéing the veggies, we need two tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot. It doesn't need to be extra virgin olive oil, since we're cooking with it.
- Onion. One large onion diced is about 1.5 cups of diced onion. Use a white or yellow onion, but do not use a sweet onion.
- Celery. Two stalks of celery that has been thinly sliced.
- Carrots. Two medium carrots, peeled and diced.
- Zucchini. One pound of fresh zucchini, diced. If it's not zucchini season, you can swap in potatoes or a can of white beans.
- Garlic. Two cloves of fresh garlic, minced.
- Italian Seasoning. One and a half teaspoons of Italian seasoning blend. This contains a mix of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme.
- Dried Basil. I like to add extra dried basil, because after extensive taste-testing at the Olive Garden, I really believe basil is the predominate flavor.
- Crushed Tomatoes. One giant (28-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes. If you can't find the fire-roasted ones, just use regular crushed tomatoes. The fire-roasting process adds a smoky flavor and breaks the tomatoes down into smaller pieces. It's most similar to a can of plain crushed tomatoes. You can add a half teaspoon of smoked paprika if you can't find the fire-roasted ones.
- Vegetable Broth. Again, keeping this minestrone soup vegan, we're using vegetable broth here, but chicken broth is fine, too.
- Green Beans. Two large handfuls of fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces. This is about a half-pound of green beans.
- Pasta. You can use any type of short-cut pasta you like. I used macaroni for the photos, but you can use rotelle, fusilli, gemelli, or anything small.
- Kidney Beans. One 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained. You can use regular dark red kidney beans or the light red ones.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. I always add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar the end of making minestrone soup. The acidity brightens the flavors and really amplifies the tomatoes. Give your soup a taste when its done cooking and decide if you want to add it.
- Parmesan Cheese. If I'm not keeping this recipe vegan, I serve this with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. It's entirely optional, however.
How to Make Minestrone Soup
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and then add the diced onion. Sauté until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
Next, add the celery and carrot; sauté for another 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute while stirring until fragrant.
Finally, add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the green beans, zucchini, pasta and kidney beans. Simmer the minestrone soup until the pasta is done, about 10 minutes.
When the pasta in the soup in done, I want you to taste the broth with a spoon. If it seems like it needs more salt, try adding the 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar instead. Stir, and taste it again. Usually, the vinegar will balance out the flavors and eliminate the need for extra salt. But, it's your minestrone soup, so add extra salt and pepper before serving, if you like.
I'm so glad you asked this! Vegetable soup is usually a thin tomato-based broth full of all kinds of vegetables and a salty seasoning mix. My vegetable bean soup is a good example of this. Minestrone soup, on the other hand, is a smoky tomato broth soup with beans, pasta and Italian seasoning.
This soup is packed with vegetables, making it full of fiber and antioxidants. You can also keep it plant-based by omitting the Parmesan cheese on top. You can check the recipe card below for full nutritional information.
A quick scan of the ingredient list can tell you that this soup is very Italian. From the pasta, Italian seasoning, tomatoes and use of beans, this soup is full-on Italian. Google tells me it was invented in 30AD, so if you haven't made it yet, you should, because literally millions of people before you have.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (~1 ½ cups)
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 28-ounce can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- ½ pound fresh green beans, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 pound zucchini, diced
- 1 cup small pasta
- 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- For serving: Parmesan cheese (if not vegan)
- In a large soup pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion. Cook the onion until starting to soften and turn translucent around the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Then, add the sliced celery, carrot and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next, add the garlic, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt and pepper. Saute for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Finally, add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and water, and bring to a boil.
- Once the soup is boiling, add the green beans, zucchini, pasta and kidney beans. Simmer until the pasta is done, about 10 minutes. This will also cook the green beans and soften the kidney beans.
- Once the pasta is done, taste the soup broth. If it seems like it needs more salt, stir the apple cider vinegar and taste it again. You can always add more salt and pepper to your liking.
Zucchini: If you're anti-zucchini, use diced potatoes or a can of white beans in its place.
Crushed Tomatoes: If you can't find the fire-roasted ones, just use regular crushed tomatoes and add a half teaspoon of smoked paprika.
Vegetable Broth: If you're not vegan, you can use chicken broth here.
Pasta: You can use any type of short-cut pasta you like. I used macaroni for the photos, but you can use rotelle, fusilli, gemelli, or anything small.
Kidney Beans: You can use regular dark red kidney beans or the light red ones.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Give your soup a taste when its done cooking and decide if you want to add it. Vinegar brightens any dish, and it may be the thing your soup needs, insetad of extra salt and pepper.
Parmesan Cheese: Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but know that this makes the soup not vegan.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 168Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 925mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g