Weeknight Cooking

Desperation Minestrone Soup

September 18, 2017
7 Ratings
Photo by Sarah Jampel
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe is meant to be an edible way to compost all your wayward produce. “Pantry vegetables” are the sturdy ones that last a while in the crisper drawer of your fridge. The green veggies cook quickly, which means you should add them toward the end of the soup process. Another great addition from the garbage bowl: a Parmesan or Pecorino rind to add a rich, cheesy flavor to the broth. Next time you finish a wedge, save the rind in your freezer until it’s soup time.

Experiencing a different type of desperation? This soup can also be made with canned or frozen vegetables. If pre-cooked or canned, simply stir into the soup with the beans. For canned, it's best to rinse thoroughly.

When I’m in the mood for a little more protein, I start by browning 1/2 pound of organic chicken or turkey sausage at the beginning of this recipe.

Reprinted with permission of the author from The Wellness Project, copyright 2017 Phoebe Lapine, Pam Krauss Books. —PhoebeLapine

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups finely chopped "pantry" vegetables (carrots, fennel, leeks, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, etc.)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • one 15-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • one 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup green vegetables (zucchini, green beans, peas, leafy greens, broccoli, etc.), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free elbows, orzo, or orecchiette (optional)
  • 1/2 cup herbs (basil, chives, parsley, tarragon, or a combination), roughly chopped or torn
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino, for serving (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Sauté the onions and pantry vegetables over medium-high heat until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer until the liquid is reduced and the tomato chunks have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, salt, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in the beans, green vegetables, and pasta (if using), then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through. Off the heat, stir in herbs and taste for seasoning. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and shaved Parmesan or Pecorino for a salty bite.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Karen Spardello Sagaspe
    Karen Spardello Sagaspe
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Martin
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on www.FeedMePhoebe.com

7 Reviews

Violet L. December 22, 2020
I just made this soup yesterday, after poring through many minestrone recipes, and it is delicious. I used real canned Italian tomatoes, and the taste is just sensational! I like pasta in soup, so I added mini-orecchiette. I used Italian seasoning (herbal) and fennel seeds. I found that I needed to add another cup of liquid at the end. Other than these few personal preferences, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I've made a lot of minestrone over the years, and this is the recipe that I like the best. Many thanks for this winner!
Karen S. September 19, 2020
I've made this amazing soup before and decided to make it again today because "Desperation Minestrone Soup" is an absolute necessity after losing the Notorious RGB
jpcutner April 23, 2020
Delicious! * cups of broth is a fair amount, however,
as it simmers down the depth of flavor is out of this world.
Taylor S. January 14, 2018
Good skeleton recipe for minestrone. Made this when it was below 20 degrees and it hit the spot!
Catmd September 24, 2017
I love the desperation minestrone description. I'm just learning to cook. I can do this!
Martin September 20, 2017
How bad will this taste if I use water instead of stock, or like half and half? 8 cups is A LOT!
Sarah J. September 20, 2017
It will be fine!