Minestrone Soup is the sort of soup that keeps life interesting – it’s filled to the brim with a variety of vegetables, potato, beans and pasta, in a thick tomato broth that’s full of savoury flavour. Nobody ever leaves the table dissatisfied after hoovering down a bowl of this!
It’s hearty, it’s chunky, it comes fully loaded and the savoury tomato soup broth is full of flavour thanks to a few extra little touches that make all the difference: bacon sautéed until golden, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and the final touch – parmesan stirred in the soup as well as sprinkled on top.
So if you’ve ever made and been unimpressed by a Minestrone Soup before – I promise you, this one will not disappoint! (Because I’ve been there too, which is essentially why I ended up just creating my own. )
What goes in Minestrone Soup
Fair warning – I put everything but the kitchen sink in my minestrone soup! I like mine with lots of variety. But actually, it means the add ins for minestrone soup are highly customisable (circled in the photo below).
The secret ingredients for the minestrone soup broth are bacon, parmesan and Worcestershire sauce, and a touch of tomato paste which thickens the broth nicely as well has driving home the tomato flavour. Together, they add extra flavour that takes what can sometimes be a pretty meh! soup into give me seconds! Thirds!
BEST PASTA FOR MINESTRONE SOUP?
Small pasta works best for easier eating and also they don’t bloat as much as large pasta (like rigatoni) when leftovers are left in the broth.
I used Ditalini (very small tubes, pictured above) but any small pasta works fine – try tiny shells, risoni / orzo, small macaroni or even alphabet or tiny star shaped pasta!
How to make Minestrone Soup
There’s no denying there’s a fair amount of veggie chopping involved, but the good news is that the cooking part all happens in one pot!
After sautéing the bacon, garlic and onion, the veggies get added in the time it takes to cook. So if you’re customising your add ins – and I thoroughly encourage you to – start with the vegetables that can hold up to long cook times first, and faster cooking vegetables last.
PRO TIP: Cook the pasta to just before al dente – take the pot off the stove at the recommended cook time per packet MINUS 1 1/2 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the residual heat to perfect al dente, then the pasta will hold up fine even stored IN the broth for 2 to 3 days. It does soften more but it doesn’t go unpleasantly mushy.
Using small pasta also helps with this (larger pasta and long string pasta bloats more, breaks apart etc).
What to serve with Minestrone Soup
The nice thing about Minestrone Soup is that it comes fully loaded with plenty of vegetables (not just the chopped fresh vegetables, but also the canned tomato and onion counts towards your daily veg intake!) plus starch (beans, pasta, potato).
So it’s a complete meal in a bowl that’s hearty, satisfying, and keeps you full. And pretty healthy too, if you opt for lean bacon!
But nobody says no to crusty bread for dunking – especially if it’s warm and slathered in butter. Try this crusty Artisan Bread (pretty sure it’s officially the world’s easiest yeast bread recipe). And if you’re out of yeast, try this no yeast Sandwich Bread, Irish Soda Bread or Flatbread – all easy, all terrific! – Nagi x
BREADS TO SERVE WITH MINESTRONE SOUP
Watch How To Make It
Note on video error! One of the cans of tomato I tipped into the pot was WHOLE tomato instead of crushed. So off camera, I stuck my hand into the pot and crushed them myself.
Recipe video above. The heartiest of all chunky soups, filled with anything your heart desires! While the add ins are endlessly customisable, stick with the soup broth recipe because I’ve made it extra tasty!
* Asterix marked items can be substituted with any cookable vegetables, 6 cups in total.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 150g / 5oz bacon , finely chopped
- 1 onion , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 800g/ 28oz crushed tomato (or 700g passata)
- 2 cups chicken stock/broth , low sodium
- 2 cups water
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 400g/ 14oz canned kidney beans , drained
- 1 tsp EACH salt and pepper
- 1 cup small pasta , like ditalini, tiny shells, risoni/orzo, baby macaroni, alphabet or star pasta
- 1/4 cup parmesan , grated
MINESTRONE VEGETABLES (NOTE 1):
- 1 celery rib* , chopped 1.5cm / 1/2″ pieces
- 1 large carrot* , peeled and diced 1.5cm / 1/2″ pieces
- 1 zucchini* , chopped 1.5cm / 1/2″ pieces
- 1 potato* , cut into 1.5cm / 1/2″ pieces (peel if needed)
- 100g / 3oz green beans* , trimmed then cut into 2cm / 3/5″ lengths
- 2oz/ 60g baby spinach (or frozen spinach, kale or similar – can leave out)
FOR SERVING – OPTIONAL:
- More parmesan
- Chopped parsley
- Crusty bread for dunking!
Heat oil over high heat in a very large pot.
Add bacon, cook until starting to turn golden (~2 min) then add garlic and onion.
Cook until onion is translucent and bacon is light golden ~ 2minutes.
Add carrot, celery and zucchini. Stir for 1 minute to coat in flavour.
Add crushed tomato, chicken stock, water, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, kidney beans, salt and pepper.
Stir, bring to simmer, then place lid on and adjust heat so it’s simmering gently.
Simmer 20 minutes, then add potato and beans.
Simmer 5 minutes, then add pasta. Cook for time per pasta packet MINUS 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from stove, stir through parmesan and baby spinach. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
Serve, garnished with extra parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley if desired. Warm crusty bread on the side would certainly be the cherry on top!
Vegetarian option – skip the bacon, use vegetable rather than chicken stock. Then give the broth a flavour bump with one of these options:
- Increase parmesan to 3/4 cup (75g)
- Add 2 tsp Vegeta (or other vegetable stock powder) instead of salt (then add salt at end to taste)
- (For meat free vegetarians) Use 3 anchovies (finely chopped) or 2 tsp anchovy paste – add it halfway through cooking onion, it will dissolve. Adds a good hit of umami into broth, no sign of fishiness once simmered
Storage – if you use small pasta and cook it for 1 1/2 minutes less than per packet time (as per recipe directions), then it keeps fine in the soup broth. Keeps for 3 to 4 days – pasta does absorb liquid so it gets thicker, almost stew like. You can add a bit of water to thin it out, but not too much because it will dilute flavour. Consider it a soup on day 1, Minestrone Stew on day 2 and beyond!
Freezes well too – cool, freeze, thaw, reheat using preferred method.
Nutrition is for 5 people (VERY big bowl!) assigning lean bacon is used.