I have been so excited to share my Minestrone Soup recipe with you all. It is a fast and healthy version made with zucchini and fresh basil. It can be made vegan or gluten-free if desired. It’s high in fiber and only 111 calories per cup, but it is surprisingly filling! Also, it can be frozen too!

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an overhead view of two bowls of minestrone soup on a gray table

No question, soup is one of my favorite things to cook. Specifically I love making vegetable soup. I love chopping everything and layering the ingredients into the pot to cook them sequentially to maximize the flavors. It is so satisfying and something I relish when the weather goes from summer to fall.

This year I have been working on perfecting Minestrone soup. A seemingly straight-forward task. But not so because a lot of Minestrone soup recipes fall flat on flavor. They have that “too healthy” or “low fat” taste of the ’90s low fat era.

If you’ve been to Italy and had authentic Minestrone soup, then you know that real deal Italian Minestrone is neither flat nor low fat tasting! It is usually full of body and flavor from tomatoes, herbs, really good olive oil. It’s often cooked with the rind of the Parmesan right in it. Some Italian variations are also cooked with parts of the pork in the broth, that don’t actually add any chunks of meat to the soup, but they add lots of velvety mouthfeel.

So I set out to create an easy home cook version of Minestrone with the slow cooked Italian version in my mind’s eye. Here’s what I came up with.

minestrone soup in a white bowl on a gray background

How to Make Minestrone

  1. Cook the pasta separately. This is the one and only sure fire way of making sure your pasta is cooked but not overcooked. Trying to time softening the vegetables in a quick Minestrone is tricky if the pasta is in the pot at the same time. Cooking the pasta in another pot eliminates the guesswork.
  2. Start with a good soup pot. I particularly love my heavy enameled cast iron pot for making soup. It has a wide bottom, so I can brown the vegetables quickly and they don’t over-crowd and steam. The thickness of the bottom is important, because it will prevent the food from burning.
  3. Cook the onion and garlic first to get a little caramelization (that means the natural sugars have started browning) before adding in the carrots and celery which will contribute moisture and slow the browning process.
  4. Add the dry herbs in with the veggies before the liquid is added. This will help bloom them so they will be more flavorful.
  5. Look for fond on the bottom of the pot. Fond is the tasty browned bits that stick to the pan. Fond is your one way ticket to Flavortown. You want that! You don’t want burning, so don’t let it go too dark. Burning is bitter.
  6. Deglaze with white wine, which is acidic. This is important because it and helps to draw up the fond (aka your one way ticket to Flavortown.) Acidity also helps to brighten and balance the other flavors in the Minestrone. Wine (or any alcohol) as an ingredient also helps our taste buds perceive flavor.
  7. Choose a great vegetable broth. My favorite is Imagine “No Chicken.” Of course making your own stock is always a great idea, just make sure to peel your vegetables- peels are bitter and are for compost and chickens, not for stock. If you do make your own, increase the added salt by 1/2 teaspoon to compensate.
  8. Add the zucchini in with the broth because the other veggies have had a head start already. The zucchini on the other hand not only cooks quickly but it won’t caramelize in the first place so there is no point in sautéing it with the onions etc. That’s because it has a very high water content, and to caramelize it you need a much dryer and hotter environment- like a pretty empty hot skillet with oil or a hot oven with oil or a grill with oil. To read more about why this is the case don’t miss my explanation of caramelization and why that occurs.
  9. I like to use whole Italian canned tomatoes and crush them by hand into the soup. I love the rustic, irregular texture. Look for those with the label that says San Marzano. Use the tomato sauce from the can too. That gives the soup body.
  10. Finish by stirring the beans and pasta into the soup and just heat it through. That will ensure the pasta doesn’t become overcooked and the beans will not break down.
  11. Stir in the basil after the Minestrone comes off the heat. Fresh basil has volitile compounds our noses pick up, but they evaporate quickly when heated. So stirring the basil in at the end will keep as much fresh basil flavor for serving.
  12. Finish it the way the Italians would with a drizzle of more (good) Italian extra-virgin olive oil. I add on Parmesan cheese too- but if you’re vegan you can skip it.

a side view of two bowls of minestrone soup on a gray table

 


More Healthy Soup Recipes You’ll Love

Pappa al Pomodoro– Italian Bread Tomato Soup

Harvest Vegetable Soup

Chicken, Quinoa and Turmeric Soup with Mustard Greens

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Healthy New England Seafood Chowder

Roasted Garlic Cheddar Soup

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Paleo Chicken and Vegetable Soup

 

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minestrone soup in a white bowl

minestrone soup

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 15 cups 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

A quick and healthy Minestrone soup recipe {can be made vegan and gluten-free if desired} with zucchini and basil. Only 111 calories per cup.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked macaroni, gluten-free if desired
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving, optional

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown slightly, about 3 minutes. Add in in carrots, celery, Italian seasoning and salt, and stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and the pan has a little fond along the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in wine and cook, stirring until most of the wine is evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Add in broth and zucchini, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Crush tomatoes into the soup and add any tomato sauce from the can. Stir in beans and the cooked macaroni and cook, stirring often until heated through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Serve in bowls topped with Parmesan and additional olive oil if desired.

Notes

Notes: Fond is the golden brown tasty crusty bits found on the bottom of the pot once the liquid in the veggies has cooked out. Fond is very flavorful so it is important to develop the fond in step 2 to maximize flavor of the Minestrone.

This soup can be made ahead up to 5 days in advance. To rewarm, bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Do not simmer for too long as this will overcook the pasta and zucchini and dull the flavor of the basil. For best flavor, leave the basil out until it is re-warmed.

Minestrone can be frozen up to three months. Divide into containers with convenient number of servings and cool completely in the fridge before covering tightly and freezing. To thaw, transfer the container to the refrigerator and thaw at least 24 hours. Or reheat from frozen in the microwave, breaking up ice as it thaws every 4 minutes or so.

Nutrition information is without garnishes.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 111
  • Sugar: 6
  • Fat: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 18 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 3 g
A fast and healthy Minestrone Soup recipe with zucchini and fresh basil. Vegan or gluten-free options if desired. High in fiber and only 111 calories per cup, it is surprisingly filling! Can be frozen too. @healthyseasonal #soup #minestrone #vegan #glutenfree #healthy