In Italian, minestrone means "big soup," and there's no more appropriate moniker for this Italian classic. Minestrone is a soup that's full of enough flavors, textures, and nutrients to be the perfect one-pot dinner, and what's more, it's super easy to make. This vegetarian minestrone soup recipe is great to make in large quantities, with one exception: the pasta. You'll want to add just enough pasta to the soup that you're serving, otherwise it will swell and absorb all of the broth, becoming mushy and unpalatable in the process.
While this is my favorite way to make minestrone, you can actually add all sorts of different ingredients to it: green beans, cabbage, kale, winter root veggies... anything goes, as long as it's fresh and tasty.
As written, the soup is actually vegan as well as being vegetarian, but those who eat dairy can feel free to add a Parmesan rind to the soup as it simmers for a hint more umami flavor, or even bacon or pancetta for even more flavor.
Vegetarian Minestrone Soup Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cauliflower, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28-ounces whole, peeled tomatoes
1 cup white beans, soaked overnight
10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (or 1 tablespoon prepared pesto)
salt and pepper
2 ounces whole wheat ditalini or elbow pasta per person
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized. Add the zucchini, carrots, and cauliflower, and continue cooking until lightly golden brown. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute, until it becomes fragrant, then add the juice from the tomatoes, and reduce the heat.
Use your hands to squash the whole tomatoes as you add them to the pot. Drain the soaked white beans and add them to the pot as well. Fill the tomato can or jar if using with water, and add the water to the pot. Otherwise, add 28 ounces of water (about 3.5 cups). Cook, uncovered, for about 2 hours, or until the white beans are tender. Season with salt, pepper, and basil or pesto.
The soup, prepared to this point, can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for up to 6 months.
When ready to serve, dish out enough soup for the number of people you are serving, and add the pasta and half of the pasta's volume in water to the soup. Season with a touch more salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.
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Top minestrone image via Shutterstock
All other images care of Emily Monaco