Minestrone is one of the many traditional Italian recipes handed down from family to family. Italian Minestrone is a type of soup rich in vegetables and legumes, more or less thick, depending on the habits.
The recipe for minestrone soup, in fact, is not the same for everyone: the ingredients, the method of preparation and the way of serving it vary according to the tradition of each Italian region or local area.
However, the common rule is to use a mix of vegetables and legumes, even better if fresh and in season. Some add grains, such as rice, spelt and barley, or pasta such as ditalini. Creativity of those who prepare this Italian soup and, above all, seasonality does the trick.
There is no perfect time to make this Italian minestrone soup recipe, but certainly winter is perfect for this dish. In fact, Minestrone is a perfect comfort food on cold winter days.
We often prepare minestrone in the warm season as well. Served cold it is a light and hearty lunch. In spring and summer we have a wide variety of fresh vegetables at our disposal.
Now we are going to show you how to make the authentic Italian minestrone soup recipe, made with fresh vegetables that are almost always available throughout the year and cannot be missed in this traditional Italian recipe.
Here is how to cook the best Italian minestrone soup, the ultimate vegetarian recipe!
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How to Make Authentic Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe
- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 50 Min
- Yelds: 6
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 stalk of celery
- 2 ripe tomatoes or 100 g (1/2 cup) of Tomato Passata
- 100 g (4 oz) of pumpkin pulp
- 100 g (4 oz) of broccoli florets
- 200 g (7 oz) of borlotti beans (cranberry beans) or cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
Then you need large pot with high sides and a lid. Traditionally we use a Terracotta pot, which retains heat and cooks more evenly. This item is also very beautiful, decorates your kitchen and can be even a lovely gift. Even an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven make the trick.
To serve Minestrone, or other vegetable dishes, we recommend a set of plates decorated with themed subjects. Check out this beautiful set of plates that will grace your table and wow your guests!
A) First of all, remember that if you use dried beans you must soak them in water for at least 12 hours before using them.
B) Wash and peel all the vegetables thoroughly. Then cut them into as even pieces as possible. If the vegetable pieces are about the same size, they will cook more evenly.
Step 1) – In a high-sided pot, sauté onion, carrots and celery (which you have previously diced) with two tablespoons of oil. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2) – Now add all the other vegetables, starting with those that have the longest cooking times. In our case, therefore, first of all the beans.
Remember that if you are using dried beans, they should be soaked in plenty of water at least 12 hours beforehand.
Step 3) – Then add the chopped pumpkin.
Step 4) – Finally, the potatoes in chunks.
Step 5) – Stir and add about 1.5 liters (about 6 cups) of water. Lightly salt, cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes from boiling over moderate heat.
Step 6) – After this time, add the other vegetables as well. First the zucchini and broccoli cut into pieces.
Step 7) – Then the chopped tomatoes or tomato passata.
Step 8) – Stir and, if necessary, adjust the consistency by adding more hot water. Adjust salt and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, covered and over moderate heat, depending on the desired consistency.
The authentic Italian minestrone soup is ready and should be served, hot or warm, with a drizzle of oil and a grinding of black pepper. Enjoy!
How to Store Italian Minestrone Soup
You can store vegetable minestrone for up to 3 days in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight food container.
Can I Freeze Minestrone Soup?
Yes, you can freeze minestrone, especially if you have used fresh ingredients.
You can also freeze fresh vegetables, already cleaned and diced, in freezer bags. Then, when needed, use these vegetables to make minestrone.
The Secret to Make the Best Italian Minestrone Soup: The Soffritto
As we saw in Step 1, the preparation of Minestrone begins with the soffritto.
The minestrone soffritto consists of chopped onion, celery and carrot sautéed with extra virgin olive oil.
Variations can be endless depending on the region or family Italian customs. For example, you can add chopped garlic and hot chili peppers.
You can also flavor the soffritto with sage and rosemary or bay leaf in winter, while it is best with basil and parsley in summer.
Regional variations also concern the fats used: in northern Italy they substitute olive oil with butter or lard, while in central and southern Italy they add bacon or chopped ham fat to give more flavor to the soffritto.
Key takeaway: MAKE THE SOFFRITTO! The soffritto is the key to the success of this dish and thus to making the best Italian minestrone soup you’ve ever had!
How to Serve Italian Minestrone Soup
Minestrone is a vegetable-only soup with a thick consistency that can be served plain or with bread croutons and a little grated Parmesan cheese on top.
In Italy, minestrone is considered a first course, but given its richness in vitamins and minerals, it can also be considered a vegetarian main course.
Minestrone Soup with Ditalini Pasta or Cereals (Rice, Spelt, Barley)
Often there is also the custom of adding a handful of ditalini pasta or cereals (rice, spelt, or barley) to minestrone, resulting in a more complete, rich and satisfying dish.
Of course, if you choose to add pasta or cereal to the minestrone, keep the consistency slightly more brothy; if necessary, add a couple more ladles of hot water.
Add the pasta or cereal when the vegetables are almost cooked. Continue cooking for the necessary time indicated on the pasta or cereal package, usually 10 to 15 minutes.
Italian Minestrone Soup, Some Regional Variants
Here are some variations of traditional Italian minestrone that vary from region to region, depending on the traditions of each area.
Minestrone alla Fiorentina
In Tuscany, for example, ditalini rigati are widely used. Also in Tuscany, it is customary to blend some beans to give a thicker consistency to the minestrone.
Minestrone alla Romagnola
In Emilia Romagna people prefer to use a very small egg pasta in minestrone, often flavored with nutmeg.
Minestrone alla Milanese
In Lombardy people prefer to use rice. Indeed, the minestrone alla Milanese, prepared with rice, savoy cabbage and borlotti beans, as well as other vegetables, is famous.
Minestrone alla Genovese
In Liguria people prefer trenette coarsely broken by hand. Minestrone alla Genovese also includes the addition of a spoonful of Genovese pesto and green beans along with the other vegetables.
Minestrone in the Cucina Povera: A Curiosity
In the cucina povera of the Italian rural tradition, there was a custom of boiling together with vegetables also waste foods, such as ham bones and parmesan crusts.
These ingredients, although waste, still had a lot of taste, flavor and fat that made minestrone richer and tastier.
Minestrone: Some Variations According to the Seasons
Of course, as we have already mentioned, there is no unique and fixed recipe for Minestrone. In fact, the minestrone ingredients change with the seasons.
Carrots, onion, potatoes and celery should never be missing. They can be combined with an endless variety of vegetables, depending on personal taste and season. And for it to be called “Minestrone” you need at least 5 or 6 types of vegetables in total.
Now we give you some ideas and suggestions for vegetables to use in your Minestrone in each season.
In Spring you can use fava beans, fresh peas, and tender spinach. To give Minestrone an even more aromatic touch, add a spoonful of basil pesto, made from the first leaves of newly hatched basil plants.
To choose what to put in minestrone in summer, just look at the vegetable counter: the choice is really wide.
The first ingredient to put on the list is, of course, zucchini, which are at their best in this season. They are tender and tasty.
Among seasonal vegetables in summer, let’s not forget bell peppers, ripe and tasty tomatoes, green beans, and new potatoes.
Autumn and Winter
This vegetable soup in the cold seasons, autumn and winter, is rich and tasty. At this time of year there are vegetables that are very nutritious, strong in flavor, and rich in nutrients.
Cold season minestrone cannot do without squash, aromatic leeks, fennel, cabbage and cauliflower.
In addition, to give a special touch, you can add chopped mushrooms.
Italian Minestrone Soup: Origins of the Recipe
The origins of Italian Minestrone recipe are very ancient.
Minestrone was already known to the Romans, who prepared it with onions, garlic, carrots, asparagus, lentils, mushrooms, and whatever could be found in the fields at that time.
The method of preparation was the one we still use today: boiling all the ingredients in water.
Over the centuries, and especially after the discovery of the Americas, the ingredient list for minestrone was enriched, especially with tomatoes and potatoes.
The name of this dish comes from the Latin word “minestrare,” which indicates the action of distributing food at the table. The “ministrata” was precisely the one who had cooked and distributed the dish to the diners.
Minestrone Soup web story