Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup made with carrots, celery, onion, kale, potatoes, and beans simmered in a tomato-based broth.  This nourishing soup is wonderful in the winter but is just light enough to eat all year round.

Large white bowl of minestrone soup with spoon and piece of bread.

Minestrone is an Italian soup whose ingredients and preparation can vary greatly depending on where you’re located.

Here in the US, many think of the reddish-brown toned minestrone (Progresso brand being the most popular growing up) that’s usually found in a can and includes kidney beans, lima beans, and macaroni.

 

While in Italy, minestrone is different depending on the region you’re in (ie. in Tuscany, bread is used in minestrone la Ribollita, and in northern Italy rice is included).

But for many Italian-Americans, minestrone was a homemade tomato-based brothy vegetable soup that was loaded with flavor and nutrients and that’s the version I aimed to recreate here.

Ingredients shown: tomatoes, beans, onion, garlic, potatoes, pancetta, kale, celery, carrota, herbs, parmesan rinds, and vegetable stock.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Remove the leaves from one bunch of Tuscan kale and roughly chop the leaves.  The stems can be discarded or composted.
  2. Dice 1 large onion, 2 medium carrots, 2 celery ribs, and a 1/4 pound of pancetta.  Mince 5 cloves of garlic and a 1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley.  Cube 3 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes.

Minestrone recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven to medium-low and add a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and the pancetta and cook until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and a sprinkle of salt.
  3. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the veggies have softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is very fragrant.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Add the kale along with 8 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 15-ounce can of drained lima beans, 1 15-ounce can of drained cannellini beans, and 1 14-ounce can of crushed plum tomatoes.  Note: If using whole plum tomatoes, just hand crush or blender pulse.
  2. Add 1 rind of Parmigiano Reggiano and 8 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 1 hour with the lid partially covering the pot.
  4. Taste test the minestrone and make any adjustments to salt and pepper.  

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Add the potatoes and bring the heat back up to a boil, then lower it to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Taste the soup again and make any final adjustments to salt and pepper.  For a thicker soup, mash some of the beans and potatoes against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon.  Right before serving, add the fresh parsley to the pot and serve in bowls with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a hefty drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Large pot of minestrone soup with wooden ladle.

Top tips for classic minestrone

  • Vegetables and beans. We used a combination of Tuscan kale, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, cannellini, and lima beans/butter beans for our minestrone.  Feel free to use different greens or beans if you’d like.  Other types of kale work well as would chard, spinach, and savoy cabbage. Use any beans or combination of beans you’d like!
  • The fat.  We used a combination of pancetta and olive oil to cook our soffritto but if you would like to make this dish vegetarian, simply omit the pancetta.  
  • Serving minestrone. We love to serve this hearty soup with crusty bread, but you could certainly add some cooked rice or small pasta like ditalini to this classic minestrone to stretch it even further.  We also suggest serving with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and plenty of grated cheese. Pecorino or parmesan both work well.
  • Maximize flavor.  As with any of our soup recipes, the flavor of this minestrone soup will be better on the second day.  If time permits, make the soup a day in advance and reheat it when you’re ready to serve.

Small bowl of minestrone soup with bread dipped into it.

More nourishing soup recipes

Here are a few of our favorite feel-good soup recipes we think you’ll love!

If you’ve enjoyed this minestrone soup recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.

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Minestrone

5 from 19 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup made with carrots, celery, onion, kale, potatoes, and beans in a tomato-based broth. It's a warm, satisfying meal for any season.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 celery ribs diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans drained
  • 1 15-ounce can lima beans
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale stems discarded and rough chopped
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 14-ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed
  • 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind optional
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable stock plus more if needed to thin
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes cubed
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven to medium-low and add the pancetta and extra virgin olive oil. Once the pancetta has rendered most of its fat add the onion, celery, and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and cook until soft (about 10-12 minutes).
  • Once the veggies are soft add the garlic and cook until fragrant (2-3 minutes) then add the tomatoes, beans, kale, thyme, Parmigiano rind, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 1 hour with the lid partially covered.
  • Taste test and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Add the potatoes and bring the heat back up to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are for tender (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Taste test the soup once more and make final adjustments to salt and pepper. For a thicker soup feel free to mash some of the beans and potatoes with a wooden spoon.
  • Before serving, add the fresh parsley to the pot and serve in bowls with parmesan cheese and a drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Serve the soup with crusty bread. Enjoy! Note: This soup is much better if it is left to cool and refrigerated overnight but can 100% be enjoyed the same day.

Notes

  • Feel free to change up the veggies or beans.  Savoy cabbage, chard, and other types of kale all work well.
  • Serve with crusty Italian bread, parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, and a hefty drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in each bowl.
  • Minestrone can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 40.6g | Protein: 18.3g | Fat: 25.3g | Saturated Fat: 5.1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 494mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 9.1g | Sugar: 6.2g | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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47 Comments

  1. Are you supposed to wash the Parmesan rind? Soup’s on the stove and focaccia is in the oven. Parmesan rind, what a racket. The stuff they used to throw away after grating or shredding now it’s a bargain at only $12.99/ lb. Then again mom would get soup bones for free from the kosher butchers on LI. Now they’re 6-7$ a lb at the supermarket.

  2. 5 stars
    This is amazing. I followed the recipe exactly, save for subbing Great Northern beans for Lima beans (couldn’t find limas) and it was without a doubt the best minestrone I’ve ever had. I’ve been watching the channel and listening to the podcast for a while now but this is the first recipe I’ve tried. It won’t be the last. When the soup is gone, pasta alla Norcina is up next! Thank you Jim and Tara for the amazing recipe, the great content and the encouraging instruction.

    1. Hi Ryan, we’re so happy you loved the minestrone and enjoy the Norcina! You’ll have to let us know how that turns out. Thanks for the great comment!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this exactly according to the recipe. It was fabulous and easy. I have my grandmother´s recipe which takes an entire day. This was quicker and just as delicious.