Minestrone Soup

July 23, 2021
12 Ratings
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I usually don't follow a recipe for soup, and I rarely write one down. I wrote up this one for publication, and even if I don't follow it exactly every time, at least I've got a good framework now. —Foodwriter97426

Test Kitchen Notes

You'll love this delicious, hearty minestrone recipe whenever you have some beans and lots of fresh herbs to use up. This minestrone follows the Italian tradition of relying solely on the vegetables, beans, and a scrap of Parmesan rind for the flavor of the broth, which is made with a base of water. The beans, which are cooked from scratch in the soup broth, enrich the soup, Napa cabbage sweetens it, and a last-minute addition of red wine underscores its heartiness. You might want to start with half the pepper called for and add more to taste, but whatever you do, don't forget the final pinch of freshly grated Parmesan on top! We also added a cup and a half of water as the soup simmered to keep it nice and brothy. This is also a great make-ahead, hands-off soup, as you can either refrigerate it after it's made, or simply leave it on the stovetop for up to 2 hours to let the flavors continue to meld. It does take around 3 hours to cook, so this is definitely one of our favorite go-to weekend recipes too.

We also love its versatility. The vegetables can be changed, added to, or deleted with whatever you have on hand. Frankly, the amounts here are only suggestions—feel free to adjust to what you and your family or friends enjoy. Dried herbs can be used in place of fresh ones; just be sure to cut the amount by half, and you'll be good to go. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • 6 cups water
  • 3/4 cup dry cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup dry garbanzo beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (or 1 can, with juice)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup sliced and quartered zucchini
  • 1 (2-inch) Parmesan rind
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head of Napa cabbage (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup soup pasta (such as ditalini, orzo, or tiny shells)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  1. Heat a heavy 4-quart (or larger) pot over medium-high heat. Pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and garlic; reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the water, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are just barely tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cheese rind, oregano, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Return to a boil briefly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, thinly slice and chop the cabbage. Add to the soup along with the pasta and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through.
  5. At this point the soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (or left on the stove with the heat off for up to 2 hours). Reheat before serving. When ready to serve, add the wine; season with salt and pepper, if needed. Top with the grated cheese if desired, or pass the cheese at the table.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Pamela_in_Tokyo
  • Dale Stein
    Dale Stein
  • Lisa Simonds
    Lisa Simonds
  • Karen Spardello Sagaspe
    Karen Spardello Sagaspe
  • Bevi

32 Reviews

Pamela_in_Tokyo August 25, 2023
I made this yesterday and it is wonderful. It’s all I had for dinner! A huge bowl!!

Don’t skip the parmesan rind. It absolutely makes a huge difference in the flavor! I save all my rinds in the refrigerator. And use lots of grated parmesan to finish! I only had canned cannellini beans, so I used 2 cans and 1 can of tomatoes. I used cabbage instead of Napa cabbage as that is what I had. I also added a large eggplant as I had that and I wanted to use it. Otherwise, I following the recipe exactly … LOL!

Since I used canned beans, I skipped the whole bean cooking time and went directly to adding the rest of the ingredients on advice in the question section. No need to do that step of cooking it for 1.5 hours when using canned beans. Just do the final 30 minutes for the veggies and some more simmering after adding the cabbage,

I had pasta shells. I should have smashed them into smaller sizes before cooking them (which I did in a pan of hot water), then added them already cooked to the soup. . I forgot to smash them so they were big!! I think a smaller size would have been more visually appealing but the taste was fine.

This is one of the best minestrone soups I’ve ever made. I’ll definitely be making it again!
MarieHudgeons January 10, 2023
Was in the mood for soup and my search led me to this recipe, boy am I happy. First it’s easy and second it is delicious..I just didn’t realize it would have so much flavor. Thank you Food 52 you never disappoint.
David S. December 23, 2022
This is our go-to "It's cold outside!" meal. Also funny enough, our Halloween dinner as well (Our neighborhood goes hard for Halloween, and we need a large one-pot meal for friends and family!). The only sub is using chicken stock instead of water.
ekemann January 5, 2023
Veggie stock keeps it vegetarian, an overlook by non-vegs. There are non-meat eaters in your midst! 🙂
David S. January 5, 2023
Totally agree. A great sub as well!!!
Dale S. January 1, 2021

Honestly when I read the recipe I was skeptical but intrigued as the list of ingredients was ever so slightly different than the norm for minestrone and I had all but the Napa Cabbage on hand. So I figured it couldn't be bad but didn't really expect great.....I so underestimated this recipe...... I was even tempted part way through to use chicken broth to boost the flavor etc but held off. Knowing myself if I don't try new ingredient combos all my food ends up tasting the same, surely you know what I mean. So the only deviation I made in addition to doubling the onions, duh.... was I put 8 whole garlic cloves in the bean water (which I mushed out into the soup later) verses just browning garlic with the onions. So I never got as far as the cabbage but the soup was delicious......somehow the broth developed a really really nice depth of flavor. So I am joining in with the rest of the reviewers with my accolades. I hope YOU try it!
Lisa S. February 22, 2020
Made this the other night and was surprised at how flavorful it was. I made a few adaptions as I didn't have dry beans or wine. It still turned out great!
food52fan June 9, 2019
This recipe is so aptly named as "Your Best Minestrone" is!! I have been trying different minestrone soup recipes lately as my family has been craving it with a NY style broth and none have come close. This one is spot on! The broth is delicious even without the parmesan rind (cooking for a vegetarian in the mix). Five stars for this wonderful recipe!
Karen S. February 7, 2019
This is simmering on my stove right now. I followed the recipe and added some frozen corn. Tasted it a few minutes ago and already wish I had doubled the recipe. I guarantee that this is not going to last. Just put a bread in the oven. I predict an early dinner tonight!
Bevi August 28, 2016
Loved this soup! We made with canned beans, and therefore added them with the vegetables. We used fresh tomatoes, string beans, and zucchini. in addition to topping off with fresh parmesan, we added a knob of pesto to each serving. Delicious!
Joan October 21, 2015
if using dried beans, do you recommend that they be soaked for a few hours beforehand?
Foodwriter97426 October 21, 2015
I never bother, but if your beans are old you might want to.
Melissa G. March 8, 2015
Thanks .. great recipe .. since I have a ton of veggie (scrap) stock I did go ahead and substitute if for 2 cups of the water ..but I'm sure its as good without. Since I'm a single I use coucous .. that way I can add per serving .. since I can't eat 6 servings but storing with the pasta already in makes the pasta too soggy. I just bring my soup to a simmer and pour over the coucous, covering the bowl with a plate and a 5 minutes later removing the plate and stiring the now cooked couscous into the soup. Might be helpful for other singles out there.
Foodwriter97426 December 22, 2014
I'm so glad you and you're family enjoyed it. That's what cooking is all about!
Dawn B. December 22, 2014
I made this soup over the weekend and it was amazing! It was gone within 30 minutes and my kids asked me to make it again on Sunday.....and I did. Awesome!
WhatsEating June 15, 2014
Loved this soup! The beans gave the broth a nice slightly thick consistency. I did add about 1 1/2 cups more water as the notes suggested. Great flavor - one to make again and again.
stephanieRD January 15, 2014
Made this last night and it's my lunch today! I used a 28 oz can of San marzano tomatoes, used dried herbs instead of fresh (didn't have any fresh stuff on hand) and it came out amazing! Comfort in a bowl.
Lizzy December 8, 2013
I was so excited when I found this recipe but was pretty disappointed in the outcome. The vegetables and beans were tasty but the broth was transparent and pretty blah. I added a touch more seasonings and the red wine, which just gave me a purple hue'd broth. Besides substituting the dry beans for canned, I followed the recipe exactly. Did I miss something?
Adelucchi November 22, 2011
Thanks for the recipe. My 97 year old mother in law ( superb Italian cook in her day) gave me the thumbs up and most of all cleaned the bowl. I will make it again. I added some hot paprika for a little spice and spicy turkey meatballs. Otherwise pretty much followed your recipe.
Pat E. February 15, 2011
Got home at 6:00 with everything amazingly in the larder but the zucchini...oh well! ...too dark to find the oregano in the garden but bay, thyme, and rosemary were accessible and I had fresh dried oregano available. Chicken broth from this site's "Oven Roasted Broth" sitting and waiting to be divided and frozen was at the ready. Had to use canned beans but thought we could live with that. Just waiting to add the cabbage, pasta, and finishing touches... and it already smells and samples great. Dinner projected for 7:30. I wish I had some fresh parsley as it seems to cry for it....but I used it up yesterday. I may break down and add some mushrooms just 'cause I have them...but not really traditonal. Thanks to all! I really love food 52! It's joy and kindness reminds me a lot of the original Gail's Recipe Swap from the 90's.
Gluten F. January 26, 2011
Yup. Company coming tomorrow night. First course will be your soup and some homemade gluten free rosemary sea salt flatbread. Thank you for the idea!
Delishhh January 14, 2011
Looks fabulous and i do a minestrone that i love very similar recipe. But i use chicken stock or vegetable stock as a base not water. Also instead of red i use white wine and then i add basil peston on top of it all. You would be surprised but the pesto gives it an awesome kick.
jgerba January 1, 2011
Oh ladies, I cooked up some soup this morning, and it. was. good. I opted out of pasta and, instead, heated breadcrumbs in olive oil and sprinkled it on top of the soup, along with some fresh grated cheese. What a way to usher in the New Year.