Our favorite Minestrone soup Recipe! It’s full of fresh vegetables, a hearty broth, and you get a tempting flavor boost with a bit of pancetta. A simple soup that is just what you need after a long, cool day.
Quick and easy minestrone soup
Minestrone is a healthy vegetable-based soup that often contains beans, pasta, herbs, and broth. Here we skip the pasta, but we’ve upgraded it with pancetta, a rich and flavorful Italian pork that is similar to bacon.
Minestrone can be a bit bland and dull without it, it gives this soup that little something extra that leaves everyone craving for more. And a bit is going to go a long way, you just want that depth of flavor, not an overwhelming taste.
The other thing you’ll love about this soup is that you only need one herb, not an entire list. Rosemary goes perfectly with all of the flavors here. But stay fresh to really make the soup stand out.
Ingredients and substitutes for minestrone soups
- Bacon: Look for this on the counter (I use the Boar’s Head brand). Ask for a thick cut. Bacon could be substituted, just sauté a little longer until it becomes crispy.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Standard refined olive oil works too, it’s just not quite as flavourful.
- Yellow onion: Red or white onions could be substituted if necessary.
- Carrots: Parsnips could be substituted.
- Celery: Cut thinly so they cook faster. Swap with fennel stalks if necessary.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is preferred, with bottled garlic second best. I don’t recommend dried garlic here.
- Canned tomato cubes: I like to use Petite Cut, but Standard Cut when it’s good. 3 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced, could be substituted.
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth works well too.
- Zucchini: You can use another vegetable here if you have something different. Yellow pumpkin is a similar alternative.
- Rosemary: Go with fresh for the best taste. Another option would be to use another fresh Italian herb like basil, marjoram, oregano, parsley, or thyme (or use a mixture).
- Parmesan + rind: You will need a 4 x 1 inch parmesan bowl, just a small piece. It adds a lot of flavor, always save this for soups and sauces.
- Spinach: Cabbage or kale are great alternatives, although you’ll want to add them with the zucchini as it takes longer to cook into a tender bite.
- Kidney beans: I usually use dark red kidney beans, but light red or white (cannellini beans) work great too. You could even use something like great northern beans if you have that.
- Red pepper flakes: If you don’t like heat, skip this ingredient. A little cayenne pepper will do the same thing if this is in your closet.
- Salt and pepper: Add to taste, but remember you get salt from the canned ingredients and plenty from the parmesan and pancetta. You shouldn’t have to add a lot.
How to make minestrone soup
- Fry the pancetta: Heat the pancetta with olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Saute Moorpox: Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for about 7 minutes until soft. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer.
- Add liquids and choose ingredients: Pour the broth and water, tomatoes, zucchini, rosemary and parmesan peel. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat.
- Let simmer until tender: Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring halfway, for about 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.
- Season: Remove the rosemary and parmesan peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add beans and spinach: Stir in kidney beans and spinach and let heat for about 30 seconds.
- Thin on request: For a broth soup, you can add a little more broth to dilute as desired.
- Garnish: Serve warm with parmesan and paprika flakes if desired.
Can it be made vegan?
- Yes. If you want a vegan or vegetarian minestrone, leave out the pancetta.
- Use a vegan parmesan cheese instead.
Can it be frozen?
- Yes. This soup will freeze very well in an airtight container (leave 1/2-inch space at the top to stretch) for 3 months.
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Heat in a saucepan in the microwave or on the stove.
Can i do it in the slow cooker?
I have a slow cooker minestrone recipe here (it’s an Olive Garden Copycat recipe). You can also upgrade this with pancetta!
Tips and variations for the best minestrone
- Use a variety of vegetables and swap some of them out here for others that you have on hand.
- Opt for fresh or even frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables (with the exception of tomatoes, these are fine canned).
- Cook long enough to get a tender result. Nobody wants to bite into crispy celery in their soup.
- For extra flavor, don’t skip the pancetta and parmesan bowl. These secret ingredients really make the soup shine.
- Wait until you’ve added spinach to the end so it doesn’t get mushy and slimy.
Best vegetables to use
Make your own mix! Here is a list of good veg (technically some fruit) options for minestrone. Keep in mind that roots or tough vegetables take about twice as long (20 minutes) to cook as softer vegetables.
- Butternut squash
- green beans
- yellow pumpkin
More delicious Italian soup recipes to try
- 4th oz. Bacon*, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Chopped cups yellow onion (1 medium)
- 3/4 Cup chopped carrot (1 large)
- 3/4 Cup thinly cut celery (2 ribs)
- 1 Tbsp chopped garlic (3 carnations)
- 4th cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1/2 Cup water or more broth
- 1 (14.5 ounces) can dainty tomato cubes
- 1 small Zucchini, diced (1 cup)
- 1 Rosemary sprig
- 1 small Parmesan bowl (approx. 4 cm), plus shredded parmesan for serving
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Cups (2 oz) fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounces) can dark red kidney beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
Heat the pancetta with olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer for 4 – 5 minutes until they are only slightly browned.
Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for about 7 minutes until soft.
Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer.
Pour broth, water, tomatoes and add zucchini, rosemary and parmesan zest.
Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stir once, a total of about 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.
Remove the rosemary and parmesan peel. Season with salt and pepper (you shouldn’t need a lot of salt, it’s pretty salty).
Stir in kidney beans and spinach and let heat for about 30 seconds. For a broth soup, you can add a little more broth to dilute as desired.
Serve warm with parmesan and paprika flakes if desired.
Try it with other vegetables you may have on hand. Minestrone is so versatile. Here are some great options (add more broth to thin ones and more fresh herbs to season if you want):
- Butternut squash
- green beans
- yellow pumpkin
Other herbs to try
Amount per serving
Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value *
Saturated fat 5g31%
cholesterol 21 mg7%
sodium 976 mg42%
potassium 1011 mg29%
carbohydrates 30 g10%
Vitamin A. 4629IU93%
vitamin C 23 mg28%
calcium 209 mg21%
iron 3 mg17%
* Daily percentages are based on a 2000 calorie diet.