Budget Recipes Italian Lunch Recipes Soup

Hearty Minestrone Soup

This Italian vegetable soup is a healthy alternative to high sodium canned soup. It includes tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, beans, broth and pasta. | Share

A versatile dish through the ages

This classic Italian dish can be traced back to Ancient Rome. Romans would cook a variety of vegetables and legumes in a basic broth to make what they called pultes. They used what was available locally, to make this very common and versatile soup.

Through the Middle Ages, the dish became known as minestrone, from the Italian minestare to serve or ration out. For many peasants this daily ration was their main sustenance.

Roman Forum
Fori Imperiali, Rome, Italy. Photo: Massimo Virgilio

The Renaissance saw the introduction of tomatoes from the Americas. Regional variations of the recipe evolved that would reflect the local ingredients across the Italian peninsula. Various pastas, grains and rice were introduced. In modern times, Italian immigrants brought their recipes with them to other parts of the world, contributing to its global popularity.

Minestrone variations and cooking tips

After centuries of evolution, minestrone maintains its flexibility. Most cooks and restaurants will have their own versions. Some use various pastas while others prefer rice or grains like barley. Several varities of beans may be used along with additional vegetables like chopped spinach or zucchini. There are some who include chopped meats. But of course, ingredients can easily be modified for vegetrian, vegan or gluten-free versions of the soup. If this is your first attempt at homemade minestrone soup, use the recipe below as a guide.

For the vegetables

This soup starts with a soffritto. That’s the Italian version of the classic mirepoix blend of diced celery, onions and carrots.

Soffrito – Italian vegetable trio

After you’ve cooked the soffritto until tender, add the garlic. Heat just long enough to allow it to release some aroma (about 30 sceonds). Next, stir in the diced tomatoes and beans.

Fresh and canned beans

If you’re using fresh, uncooked green beans or flat green beans (Romano), trim the tips and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Then cook (boil or steam) them on their own until al dente. Frozen green beans should be pre-cooked as well. Canned, cut green beans won’t require pre-cooking. Just drain and add them to the soup.

For a nice variety, I like to add a can of bean medley. If possible, go with an Italian bean blend. Make sure it has kidney beans, then any combination of chickpeas, butter beans, borlotti, beans, cannellini beans is a bonus. Another popular option is to use one can of red kidney beans and one can of white kidney beans, also known as cannellini beans.

For the broth

For a thicker, more tomato forward soup, reduce the broth by one cup and add two cups of tomato juice or even some vegetable cocktail. You could also increase the pasta quantity to a whole cup. Either chicken or beef broth can be used. For a vegetarian minestrone, use vegetable broth instead. You could even consider adding a splash of wine to the broth. Pour in anywhere from ¼ to a whole cup, red or white, it’s your call.

For the herbs and greens

An easy way to season this soup is with an Italian herb blend. It’s convenient to pick up a commercial blend of herbs seasonings from a supermarket or bulk store. However, these often have added sodium, sugar and preservatives. If you have a well-stocked spice rack, why not consider this simple homemade blend.

Italian Seasoning Blend
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Garlic Powder

For minestrone soup, I also like to add some anise seeds. A nice addition is to add a half cup of chopped fresh parsley and two cups of chopped fresh spinach. This is especially nice if you’re making the vegetarian version without extra tomatoes. I prefer to put the fresh chopped basil in at the end as a garnish. That’s because when the basil cooks in the soup it goes dark and loses its aromatic kick.


Hearty Minestrone Soup

Kevin Lamoureux
This hearty Italian-style soup includes tomatoes, broth, pasta, carrots, celery, green beans and kidney beans.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course lunch, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 252 kcal


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 ribs celery diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ tsp anise
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
  • cups green beans cut up into ½-inch pieces, pre-cooked
  • 1 can bean medley (19 oz) drained
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup small shell pasta
  • ¼ cup parsley fresh, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated


  • In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the carrots, celery and onions until tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning and anise and heat for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the bean medley, green beans and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the beef broth, water and parsley. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Add pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender. Use the pasta's suggested cooking time as a guide.
  • Serve in soup bowls and top with basil and Parmesan cheese.


Serve with crusty Italian bread or toasted ciabatta.
Per serving
Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 11g | Iron: 3mg
Keyword beans, minestrone, soup, vegetables

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