The word “Minestrone” comes from the word “Minestra,” which means dish up and serve. There are variations ranging from thick and dense to more of a broth. It was originally known as Cucina Povera – or cuisine for the poor. A peasant may have killed a rabbit, or another type of meat used the bones as broth and cooked up a soup made with beans and available vegetables.
This post was originally posted Sept 2012 and updated, May 2020.
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 stalk celery diced
- ¾ cup fresh green beans with stems cut off and chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 2 small zucchini diced into small cubes
- 6-8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can cannellini beans drained (may substitute great northern or white kidney)
- 1 can kidney beans drained
- 1 28 oz can tomatoes, chopped
- 2 carrots diced
- 4 Tbsp mixture of fresh Italian parsley chopped basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and sage or your own concoction. (or 2 Tbsp dried)
- salt and pepper fresh, ground
- Bag of baby spinach leaves (8oz)
- 4 oz Italian Orzo Pasta or any small shape (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- red crushed pepper to taste (optional)
- Parmesan grated
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot
- Saute the onion, celery, garlic, green beans and zucchini in the oil for about five minutes until the onions begin to become translucent. (don't brown)
- Add the stock with the drained cans of beans, tomatoes, carrot, and all the herbs.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the washed spinach leaves and add to the pot. Also, add the pasta and simmer for another 20 minutes until the soup has reduced slightly and has a good consistency.
- Serve with a grating of Parmesan cheese and more black pepper if desired.
When tomatoes and potatoes were introduced to Italians from South America during the Middle Ages they also went into the minestrone soup. At any rate, minestrone soup is good for you and is said to be a key to longevity in Italy. Read my post about a family of elderly siblings in Sardinia who serve up minestrone soup almost every day.
My recipe below includes fresh onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, celery, green beans, kidney, cannellini beans (white kidney), and orzo (optional). One of the other elements that the siblings mentioned was their secret infusion of herbs, that they use regularly in their recipes. I’d love to know what’s in that mixture, but it’s their little secret. Although I’m guessing it may include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, or sage.
You can save the water from your steamed or boiled vegetables to use for the broth or purchase an organic broth that’s low in salt.
Fresh vegetables are always best for flavor and nutrition but if none is available, use frozen or canned.
This is THE most delicious minestrone soup recipe I’ve ever tasted
It’s vegetarian although feel free to throw in a bone or bone broth for even more flavor and goodness.
Enjoy my recipe for Sardinian Style Minestrone Soup with some freshly grated Parmesan, freshly baked bread, and an excellent Sardinian Cannonau wine or other Italian wine. Eat like a Sardinian and live a long healthy and enjoyable life!
What are your favorite ingredients to add to Minestrone soup? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.