Minestrone soup has that classic flavor that never goes out of style—it's one of those recipes that everyone should know how to make!
It's also inexpensive, packed with nutrition, and almost foolproof. Plus, it's like a big warm hug, which is extra comforting on a chilly fall day.
I was walking past a cute little shop the other day and read their lunch board as I approached the front. Don't get me wrong, their food looked great. But the first thing I noticed is that a cup of minestrone soup was around $7 plus tax—I guess that's city living for ya. My first thought was, "Ooh, minestrone sounds so good right now!" And my second thought was, "Geesh, I could make a huge pot of healthy, delicious minestrone that would feed like 8 people for around 12 bucks."
Easy, Healthy Minestrone Soup Tips
Minestrone is an Italian soup that's a mix of veggies, either pasta or rice, and usually some beans.
It's super flexible and is a great way to use what's in season. You can add a few handfuls of any chopped veggies you like or have on hand. You can also use any type of beans—or leave them out altogether.
In the image here, I used two small (gorgeous!) purple carrots and a big orange carrot. I also got a little over-zealous with the noodles and accidentally added too many—which made for a pretty image, but noodles release starch and bloat the soup, so go easy, and use the proportions I suggest below.
I used one can of beans, but feel free to add two to stretch your soup even more. This is one of those dishes that you can add a few extra cups of stock and handfuls of veggies too if you need to stretch your meal.
I was craving soup with noodles, so I bought my favorite gluten-free brown rice noodle shells because they really hold up well in this soup, but you can substitute quinoa, rice or sweet potatoes to fit your needs and preferences.
If you're cooking your noodles or rice in the soup, add two extra cups of liquid like I did here (8 cups liquid total—either water or stock), and only add half a cup of uncooked noodles, quinoa or rice, as they will expand. Always cook brown rice separately if using, as it will not fully cook in the soup. If your noodles, rice or potatoes are already cooked, use 6 cups liquid total in the soup and add them at the end.
I always finish my minestrone off with a few handfuls of freshly chopped greens—or a cup of frozen greens—to get even more nutrition and texture into the pot. In this image, I used a cup of the 365 brand of frozen chopped kale, and it did not disappoint.
Give this minestrone a try! It's almost impossible to mess up.Print
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow or white onion, chopped small
- 2 large carrots, chopped small
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped small
- 1 large bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
- 2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs, or 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil + ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes (including juices), preferably San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 1 quart organic chicken stock, bone broth, veggie stock or water
- 1 quart purified water
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ cup small (uncooked) brown rice noodles, such as shells (or 1 cup cooked brown rice noodles, or other noodles of your choice)
- 1 cup frozen greens, such as frozen kale, or 2 cups fresh greens, chopped if needed
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (we like Real Salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, a large pinch of sea salt and pinch of black pepper, and sauté for 5–6 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
- Reduce heat to low, add the garlic, bay leaf and Italian herbs, and continue to sauté for another 2–3 minutes, until very fragrant. Garlic burns easily, so watch it carefully, or reduce the heat until you add the liquid.
- After the garlic is cooked and very fragrant, add the tomatoes with their juices and cook another minute. Next, add the beans, 1 quart of chicken or veggie stock, plus 4 cups of purified water (you’ll need 8 cups of liquid total; any combo of stock and/or water works). Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and a few big pinches or turns of your black pepper grinder. Adjust the salt as needed depending on your liquid—add another teaspoon or two to taste if using no-salt-added stock.
- Turn the heat to high to let it come to a boil for one minute. If using uncooked noodles, add the ½ cup uncooked noodles now and cook at a low boil until the noodles are cooked through, usually about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer. If your noodles are already cooked, add them now and reduce the soup to a simmer. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar and add the greens. Fresh or frozen greens both work well. Allow the greens to heat through the hot soup for about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature to refrigerate or freeze. Will keep in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Tips and substitutions:
- Use gluten-free noodles if gluten-free is desired.
- Use veggie stock instead of chicken stock or bone broth to make this recipe vegan.
- Bone broth is a long simmered chicken stock that contains about 9 grams of protein per cup. Use bone broth as the base of this soup for a higher protein dish.
- Use ½ of a chopped sweet potato in place of the rice or noodles to make this dish grain-free if desired.