You can make this Italian Minestrone Soup in an hour! You'll love this easy minestrone featuring fire-roasted tomatoes, pasta, vegetables, beans and the most flavorful broth! Romano cheese adds the perfect accent.
Sometimes, soup is just the prelude to the rest of a meal. But, this Italian Minestrone Soup is the meal.
It's loaded with all kinds of goodness to fill you up!
Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup made with tomatoes, beans and pasta. Pronounced (meen ay STROHN ay) in Italian, it gets its name from "minestra," which means soup.
My version has a smokey vibe from fire-roasted tomatoes and a dash of Liquid Smoke, which is optional. It's the same ingredient I use in my Mediterranean Lentil Soup.
And, Romano provides a sharp kick of flavor. I don't do bland!
I always make a large pot of this Italian minestrone soup to ensure we've got leftovers for dinner, or at least lunch. We're a hot-lunch household, so this hits the spot.
Besides, making a big ol' pot of soup on the weekend is one of my favorite meal-planning strategies.
But, this is quick enough for a weeknight (ready in an hour) and I've provided instructions for making a smaller batch or freezing it.
Let me know if you try it!
Stock: This recipe calls for chicken stock, but you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian minestrone. Using stock instead of broth makes the soup so flavorful!
Don't worry, there's no need to make your own stock. Just buy a couple of quarts sold in cartons.
Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: These bring a wonderful, smoky flavor to the minestrone. I always use them here, but you could substitute a can of plain, diced tomatoes if that's what you have. Just promise me you'll try the fire-roasted tomatoes (affiliate link) next time!
Vegetables: We're starting with carrots, celery and onion and then building on that with frozen veggies. I usually add frozen cauliflower florets and green beans, but use what you have. You could even use sliced, fresh zucchini.
Beans: This is a white-bean minestrone, so we're using cannellini or great northern beans. You can substitute pinto beans or red beans, if you prefer.
Romano Rind: If you've never plopped a rind of salty cheese in your soup while it's cooking, you don't know what you've been missing! The Romano brings sharp, bold flavor, but you can use a Parmesan rind if you prefer.
If you want to make vegan minestrone, omit the cheese and use vegetable stock.
Liquid Smoke: This is optional, but it brings an extra smokey, somethin' somethin' to our minestrone soup. You can purchase Liquid Smoke (affiliate link) online or in the condiments section of the grocery store. I use the hickory one.
How to make minestrone
The key to delicious soup is to sauté your veggies in olive oil before adding the stock.
See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here's an overview of what to do:
- Chop the onion, dice the celery and slice the carrots.
- Cook the soffrito (celery, onions and carrots) in olive oil until soft.
- Add frozen cauliflower and green beans and cook them in the oil too.
- Stir in the beans and fire-roasted tomatoes. Then add the stock, seasonings and cheese rind.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the minestrone soup for 20-30 minutes.
- Cook the pasta in another pot while the soup is simmering.
- If you prefer the beans to be intact when the soup is ready, add them later in the cooking process. We like ours cooked down more, so this recipe calls for adding them earlier.
- Cook the pasta separately so it won't get mushy.
How to serve Italian minestrone soup
Place some pasta in a bowl and ladle the minestrone over it. Top with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
Making minestrone soup with meat
This is a meatless minestrone, but you could add meat if you'd like. For chicken minestrone, stir in cooked, shredded chicken during the last few minutes of cooking, as in this Chicken Pastina Soup.
You also could make minestrone with sausage by browning some ground Italian sausage in the pot when the carrots, celery and onion are soft. For beef minestrone soup, use ground sirloin.
Making a smaller batch
If you want to make roughly half a batch, use one quart of stock. Use half of the carrots and frozen vegetables and make half a pound of pasta.
Keep the same amount of tomatoes and rind of cheese. For the seasonings and Liquid Smoke, start with half the amount and taste to see if more is needed.
Frequently asked questions
It's best to use small pasta for minestrone so you can scoop it up with a spoon. I recommend medium shells as pictured in this post, because the soup broth gets inside. You also could use ditalini, elbows or orzo.
It's best to freeze minestrone without the pasta added to it. Frozen pasta will be too mushy when reheated.
Place the soup in a plastic quart container and use it within three months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave. You also could reheat the soup itself on the stove.
You can cook pasta to go with the reheated minestrone for another delicious meal.
More Italian soup recipes
- Authentic Pasta e Fagioli (Vegetarian)
- Pasta with Zucchini
- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Escarole and Potatoes
- Nonna's Chicken Meatball Soup
- Italian Beef Soup
If you try my Italian Minestrone Soup, please leave a comment and a rating!
Italian Minestrone Soup (Easy!)
- 1 medium yellow or white onion
- 1 pound carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 14.4-ounce bag frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 16-ounce bag frozen cut green beans
- 1 15-ounce can great northern or cannellini beans (drained & rinsed)
- 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (can use plain diced tomatoes if needed)
- 2 quarts chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon Liquid Smoke (optional)
- 1 Romano cheese rind (omit for a vegan version)
- 1 pound small pasta shells (or ditalini, elbows, orzo)
- grated Romano or Parmesan for serving
- Peel and chop the onion and set it aside. Rinse the celery, trim off the ends, and dice the celery. Set it aside with the onions. Rinse the carrots, peel them, trim off the ends, and slice the carrots into coins about ⅓-inch thick.
- In a tall (8-quart) soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onions, celery and carrots, and stir to combine. Let the veggies cook for five minutes, or until the onions are starting to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Add the frozen cauliflower and green beans to the pot, give them a stir, and cook for another five minutes. Add the beans and fire-roasted tomatoes, then the stock, bay leaf, seasonings and Liquid Smoke. (The beans added early will cook down until almost invisible, so if you prefer them intact, add the beans to the soup later, during the last several minutes of cooking.)
- Cut off the rind from a triangle of Romano cheese and add it to the pot. Stir the soup and let it cook on medium high, covered, until it boils, then lower it slightly. Let the soup cook for 20-30 minutes, with the lid propped open by a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are tender.
- As soon as you add in the Romano rind, you can start getting your pasta ready. Fill a pasta pot just over half-way full with hot water, add salt, and cover the pot. Heat it on high until it comes to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook, uncovered, until it's al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander in the sink and return the pasta to your cooking pot. Ladle some soup broth into your pasta to prevent it from sticking. Turn off the soup when it's done.
- To serve the minestrone, ladle some pasta into each bowl and add the soup over it. Sprinkle generously with grated Romano or Parmesan.
- If you used chicken stock, store the soup for up to four days in the refrigerator (separately from the pasta). If you used vegetable stock, the soup can stay for a week. You also could freeze the minestrone without the pasta and use it within three months for best quality.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C. Originally published on April 12, 2016 and updated now with new photos and additional information.)