Minestrone Soup - This is a light, satisfying, soup made from scratch with simple, hearty ingredients like pasta, bens, and fresh herbs in a flavorful tomato broth. Don't forget the parmesan for that extra touch of delish!
One of the finest expressions of the late summer/early fall harvest of vegetables is minestrone soup. Each and every ingredient is in season at the same time of year, making this symphony of textures and flavors so ideal.
As a young cook, I would've scoffed at a recipe so basic. As one becomes more seasoned and hopefully, more wise, it becomes obvious that the magic in almost all cooking is in keeping the integrity of what nature has provided as much as possible.
Practically every ingredient in this minestrone soup recipe came from our garden. Another shining endorsement of our suggestion to give gardening a shot!
- Fresh vegetables - these are the stars of this soup, zucchini, onion, carrots, etc., make sure that they are as fresh and in season as possible!
- Garlic - what is an Italian soup without some fresh garlic?
- Canned kidney beans - the varied texture and earthy flavor of these is great, but almost any bean is at home here. I like to use canned in order to make this part quick and easy.
- Tomato paste - this will make the broth have the nice sweetness of caramelized tomato.
- Parmigiana Reggiano - use it as a flavorful garnish, and save your rinds for enriching the broth!
- Ditalini pasta - nice little noodles, round and lightly chewy.
- Basil - keep it fresh for this application, if at all possible, that citrus-y tartness of fresh basil leaves is perfect to pair with the tomato broth.
- Bay leaves - some claim that they don't taste them, but you'll notice if they aren't there. they are also great for digestion.
- Oregano - fresh is ideal for the astringency factor, but dried has a sweetness to it that is really tasty.
- Extra virgin olive oil - preferably Italian
- Chicken or vegetable bouillon - we like Better Than Bouillon brand, or you can sub out the water for broth
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Knife Work
First, there is some knife work. You'll want to chop your vegetables as precisely and carefully as possible.
These images display a common and logical technique for cutting evenly sized pieces. First make even slices...
Step Two - Assembly
…and this makes it easy to make evenly sized dice.
Gather together your prepared vegetables, ready to go into the soup after your aromatics have cooked.
Step Three - Sauté Aromatics/Vegetables
Speaking of the aromatics, once you have heated your olive oil in a saucepan, you will sauté those together until starting to soften.
Once the flavor base has been coaxed out of the "mirepoix", (carrot, celery and onion base), it's time for the rest of your fresh vegetables to join the party! Let them cook briefly to release their excess moisture.
Step Four - Finishing the Sauté
Add the tomato paste.
This image illustrates a very important, often overlooked step. Make sure to gently but thoroughly stir the paste all the way through, and cook it a little bit to tone down the tart taste, and release the tomato sweetness instead.
Step Five - Cooking the Soup
Now it really starts to become soup. Add your liquid, and stir through. Notice that the veg. is still relatively uncooked at this point.
Maybe I'm just a geek, but I've been in love with this kind of view all my life. Bringing a soup full of goodness to a simmer is so mesmerizing.
Step Six - Finishing Touches
While the minestrone is simmering, let's get the essential finishes done. Chop your cheese into desired size pieces. These are for adding to the simmering soup as well as garnish. You can see that we like a decent sized bite, for a nice burst of umami flavor and texture.
Making a batch of soup is the perfect "meal prep" recipe, as the left overs are even better than the initial product. therefore, cook the pasta separately, so that it doesn't turn to mush!
Take your time during the knife work part of the prep here. If it takes a little longer to make sure that your ingredients are cut evenly and to the right size, it's worth it. Everything in this minestrone soup recipe cooks at a different pace, and it's important that all of the pieces of the puzzle come together to completion at the same time.
This is the classic version of minestrone soup, as we know it. Having said that, there are many ways to modify it to suit a variety of tastes.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the dish, or banana peppers, make sure to keep it relatively mild so as not to over power the flavor of the vegetables, though.
- Additions - Adding some kale, cabbage, other varieties of beans, or even potatoes can add a little personal touch, as well as a little pesto garnish at the very end is nice.
- Pasta - we like the ditalini shape, but feel free to use any pasta you would like, (just make sure that it's easy to pick up with a soup spoon, spaghetti might not be the best choice here!).
- Seasonality - Using the same rich tomato and herb broth with the base aromatic vegetables of onion, carrot and celery, this soup can be made with vegetables from any season. Try using winter squashes, cabbage, turnips, just about anything will work!
Store the pasta and the soup separately in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator. Each of them will stay fresh this way for 5 days.
We do not suggest freezing this soup due to the delicate nature of the vegetables in it.
This is a recipe that relies on seasoning. Pay close attention to how the application of the seasoning takes place in layers throughout the process. Certain seasonings, like salt for instance, are added for flavor enhancement, but also to release moisture at precise times. Other enhancements, like delicate herbs, need to be added closer to the end so as not to lose the freshness inherent in the oils and liquids released.
Garden to Table
More Zucchini Recipes
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chef Knife
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 measuring spoons
- 1 kitchen spoon
- 1 6 quart pot
- 1 4 quart sauce pan
- 1 strainer for the pasta
- 1 liquid measuring cup
- 1 Kitchen Scale
- 4 oz carrots small dice
- 4 oz celery small dice
- 4 oz onion small dice
- 8 oz zucchini medium dice
- 6 oz yellow squash medium dice
- 8 oz fresh tomatoes diced, or 10 oz can diced tomatoes
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 12 oz frozen cut Italian green bean or fresh green beans
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
- 3 each bay leaves
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 oz parmesan cheese 1 0z for adding to the finished soup and some for garnish
- 8 cups water less if you want a chunkier soup
- 3 tbsps Chicken Better Than Bullion or Vegetable Better Than Bullion
- ½ lb. pasta of your choice cook and serve pasta adding it cooked to each bowl of soup, so it doesn't get mushy
- Small dice the onion, celery, and carrots
- Mince the garlic
- Dice the zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes and place into a mixing bowl with the green beans
- Chop the fresh herbs
- Heat the olive oil in the 6 quart sauce pan on medium heat
- Add the onion, celery, and carrot season with salt and black pepper, then add the dried oregano and bay leaves and sauté for a few minutes or until they start to soften and release liquid
- Add the other vegetables and season with salt and black pepper and stir
- Add the tomato paste, and stir gently in order to coat the vegetables and slightly cook the tomato paste
- Add the water, and stir gently adding the bullion ( chicken or vegetable) and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper
- In the smaller sauce pan boil water adding salt, for cooking the pasta
- Add the fresh basil and parsley to the soup and give it a gentle stir
- Rinse the kidney beans with cool running water in a small strainer, then add them to the soup
- Chop or grate the parmesan cheese
- Simmer the soup for 25 minutes while you finish cooking the pasta
- Remove the soup from the heat and gently stir in about an ounce of parmesan cheese, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste
- Place desired amount of pasta in a serving bowl, ladle in the soup, garnish with additional parmesan cheese, and enjoy!