Hearty Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Hearty Vegetable Minestrone

If you love hearty vegetable soup, this easy vegetable minestrone should be on your TO-DO list. This naturally vegetarian minestrone soup is chock full of fresh and canned vegetables as well as whole grains and just a skosh of mini pasta. You can use whatever veg you have on hand, but this Italian soup requires beans — we like canned kidney beans for this healthy minestrone soup and it’s even better finished with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This post has been updated for content, photographs and recipe since its original publication in 2015.

cutting mirepoix for hearty vegetable soup.

Don’t you just love a hearty vegetable soup? One with layers of textures, flavors and colors? Something quick and easy to make, but warm and satisfying. This vegetable minestrone is a classic Italian soup that’s meant to be fiddled with according to your tastes — and what you have in the refrigerator. That kind of flexibility is infinitely appealing to me, and I’m sure to you as well.  

Ingredients for vegetarian minestrone soup

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic 
  • Fennel Seed
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Bay Leaves
  • Vegetable Broth 
  • Canned Kidney Beans
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Red Skinned Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Small Pasta
  • Curly Leaf Kale

Starting with a mirepoix of onions, carrots, celery and garlic, this hearty vegetable soup might look like any other, but the thing that sets it apart are the meaty kidney beans, two types of tomatoes and small diced potatoes. Oh, and the herb blend. That’s crucial.

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herb and spice blend for healthy minestrone soup.

Many vegetarian minestrone soups lag in the seasonings.  You can only get so much excitement from vegetables and broth, right? However, adding an herb-centric blend of spice harmonizes the rest of the soup and will keep you coming back for more… promise.

The herb blend

  • Dried Oregano
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Dried Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Crushed Fennel Seed

The oregano, basil and bay leaves are no brainers for this Italian soup, but the crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seed are my two secret ingredients.

Fennel seed adds a subtle anise flavor that’s more pronounced if you crush the seeds first. I use a mortar and pestle, but you could also put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a few spins of a rolling pin. Just enough to release the flavors.

Crushed red pepper adds zing to this healthy minestrone soup and you can adjust the heat to your tastes. I prefer a little more tingle, so I usually add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper, but if you have sensitive palates in your midst, start with 1/4 teaspoon and adjust as needed.

adding spices and canned ingredients to the vegetable minestrone.

Pantry items for healthy minestrone soup 

I used:

  • Canned Kidney Beans (and their broth)
  • Vegetable Stock (can substitute chicken stock)
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes (I like the petite dice)
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • Quinoa (just a little bit adds texture and protein — be careful not to overdo it)
  • Small Pasta (any small pasta will do, but I recommend REALLY TINY ONES like pastina, orzo, ditalini, or alphabets)

Other options:

  • Cannellini Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Farro
  • Barley
  • Rind of Parmesan Cheese (adds richness and depth to the broth – remove before serving)
prepping and adding fresh healthy vegetables to the pot.

Healthy Italian soup requires fresh veg

I used:

  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Potatoes

Other options:

  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Spinach
  • Escarole
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Peas (Frozen)
  • Corn (Frozen
  • Lima Beans (Frozen)

It’s important to chop the vegetables to roughly the same size (between 1/2″ to 1″), that way they’ll cook in roughly the same amount of time as well as fit on the spoon and in your mouth. 

finishing with chopped kale and mini pasta for a hearty vegetable minestrone soup.

Timing the doneness of vegetables

To avoid too crunchy or too soft vegetables, when adding them to the soup, it’s important to think about how long it will take for each component to cook and plan accordingly. I think this is where most people struggle, not having a sense for how long it takes vegetables and grains to cook and either over or under-estimating. Cutting the veg to roughly the same size will help, of course, but adding the ingredients in the right order, also makes a difference.  

a cauldron full of italian soup.

The order is important

 For this vegetarian minestrone soup, I add the green beans, potatoes and quinoa at the same time because the potatoes and quinoa will take roughly the same time. While I usually like a snappy, crisp green bean to eat on the side of my plate, in a soup, they should be a little more tender.  

When those vegetables are about 5 minutes from being “done,” that’s when I stir in the kale and mini pasta, which gives the kale time to wilt and the small pasta time to absorb some liquid.

If you’re using hearty grains like farro or pearl barley – which take longer to cook and absorb more liquid, I recommend cooking them separately in another pot and adding it to the hearty vegetable soup at the end of cooking. (Note: Instant or Quick Cooking Barley can be added directly to the broth).

ladling into a bowl with saltine crackers on the side.

Healthy minestrone soup is thick, chunky and redolent with colors, textures and savory flavors. This is the hearty vegetable soup other soups WANT TO BE. We enjoy it with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, but if you want to keep it vegan, skip the cheese.

How long will minestrone last?

This soup will last about 5-7 days, covered in the refrigerator.

Can I meal prep this soup?

Yes. Parse out the soup into individual containers to be heated up at the last minute. If serving with parmesan cheese, add the cheese after reheating.

Can it be frozen?

Yes. This soup freezes well for up to 3 months. 

adding parmesan cheese to a bowl of healthy minestrone soup.

More hearty vegetable soup recipes:

an overhead shot of healthy vegetable minestrone with parmesan cheese and crackers.




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4.23 from 9 votes

Hearty Vegetable Minestrone

An easy and delicious vegetarian soup with all your favorites!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta, vegetables
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion 1/2" dice
  • 2 stalks celery 1/2" dice
  • 3 large carrots 1/2" slice
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans not drained
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes in their juice
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ pound red skinned potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
  • ½ pound green beans trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • cup quinoa
  • ½ cup small pasta such as orzo, pastini, ditalini or alphabets
  • 3 large leaves curly kale tough stems removed, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Stir in the onions, carrots, celery and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender and the onions and celery start to look translucent.
  • Stir in the fennel, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper and garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes until aromatic. Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves, kidney beans in their liquid, diced tomatoes in their liquid and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chopped potato, green beans and quinoa. Bring the pot back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the potato is tender. Stir in the pasta and kale and cook until the pasta is done, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Ladle the minestrone into bowls and serve with saltines or oyster crackers. Also good with grated parmesan cheese.

NUTRITION:

Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1405mg | Potassium: 862mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 7537IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 4mg

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17 Comments

  1. Veena Azmanov says:

    5 stars
    I can smell the flavors infused to this soup. Your recipe looks super delicious and a meal by itself with all the awesome combinations to it.

  2. 5 stars
    This was perfect for today’s chilly weather. Loved how easy it was to make too.

  3. 5 stars
    Minestrone is a favorite soup at my house, and this one looks delicious and also healthy. I love how veggie packed it is. Can’t wait to make it.

  4. 5 stars
    I love your version of minestrone. It has kale and even quinoa. This is so much healthier than my usual version. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Sara | Belly Rumbles (@bellyrumbles) says:

    I do love a hearty minestrone soup. Just like yours, packed with vegetables, pasta etc. It’s summer here in Australia at the moment, and I can totally relate when you say “I could breathe without gills”! Actually loved that! We are having a few hot and steamy old days down under right now.

    1. Sometimes that heat can really be oppressive, right Sara?

  6. I’ve never been a minestrone fan, but I should probably have a go as an adult! My mother (who was born in Italy) always made it when I was little. So many healthy ingredients!

    1. It’s funny how our tastes change as we mature — I hated ratatouille as a kid and now, I can’t get enough!

  7. Can’t wait to make this but will it work in a big pot instead of Dutch oven?

    1. Absolutely. I use a dutch oven for more even temperature control, but a good stock pot works fine! Enjoy!

  8. I can’t wait to try it, but is the farro cooked an how do you cook it?

    1. Hi Gretchen! Just add the farro to the soup uncooked and it will cook in the broth — the pasta cooks in the broth as well.

  9. Jessica @ eatwellousidethebox.com says:

    5 stars
    This looks fantastic! Delicious and colorful all at once ๐Ÿ™‚ I love soups in fall and this one I will have to make…will probably substitute the pasta with rice I’ll let you know how that turns out.