This vegetarian minestrone soup recipe is easy to make at home from common pantry items and fresh produce. It’s hearty and delicious and full of flavor. This soup comes together really quickly! You’ll have dinner on the table in under an hour with this recipe.
Originally published April 2020; this post has been updated.
When it comes to comfort food, a good Italian minestrone soup is hard to beat! It’s the perfect primo, or first course, for a dinner meal, but a generous bowlful is a meal in its own right, too. Especially if you serve it with a crusty loaf of bread.
What’s the Difference Between Vegetable Soup and Minestrone?
Vegetable soup usually is just that — lots of vegetables. Minestrone is heartier, with the addition of beans and pasta.
Fresh vegetables: You might call this a garden minestrone soup, it has so many veggies! Carrot, onion, celery, zucchini, and spinach blend to make this recipe full of nutrients and flavor.
Canned beans: Adding both kidney beans and white beans make sure this hearty soup is full of protein. If you prefer, you can soak and pre-cook dry beans to add to the soup (it’s more budget-friendly, for sure!).
Hot tip: Keep some ready-cooked dry beans in the freezer to add protein to meals!
Canned diced tomatoes: Using canned items helps this soup come together in a hurry. You can easily substitute diced fresh tomatoes if you prefer. Want to add a little more flavor? Use fire roasted diced tomatoes.
Orzo: This small, rice shaped pasta is just one option for adding a starch to this soup. You can substitute your favorite pasta shape, or use brown rice pasta for a gluten free minestrone soup.
Seasonings: Italian seasoning gives this soup its classic Italy-inspired flavor. Garlic powder, salt, bay leaves, and pepper round out the recipe.
The beauty of a good minestrone soup is that it’s a great way to use up little bits of leftovers, so while this recipe will get you started, don’t hesitate to toss in a handful of leftover roasted potatoes. Or chopped broccoli. Or green beans.
Does it have to be vegetarian?
While this recipe is written with our vegetarian friends in mind, if you prefer a meatier meal, you can definitely add some chopped meat to the pot. Chicken, beef, or even ham are all fair game.
You could also use chicken or beef broth to replace the vegetable broth if you’re not concerned about making it a vegetarian minestrone soup.
Make it a gluten free minestrone soup
To make this soup suitable for the gluten free crowd, omit the orzo pasta or use a gluten free pasta option instead. If you’re serving the soup to a mixed crowd, cook the pasta separately and let diners choose whether or not they’d like to add it.
Making this Easy Minestrone Soup
Start by chopping the fresh veggies and setting them aside.
Saute the onions in a large stock pot until translucent, then add the carrots and celery. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, then add the zucchini.
Add all of the remaining ingredients except the pasta and simmer for 10-12 minutes. At this stage, you can let the soup continue to cook on low heat until you’re almost ready to serve dinner. It won’t hurt to cook it longer.
Add orzo or pasta of choice and cook for five minutes more. Turn off heat and stir in the chopped spinach.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and ladle soup into bowls.
Allow soup to cool for 1-2 hours and transfer to airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1–15oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1–15oz can white or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 5 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 1–15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 3/4 cup orzo pasta
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Lemon wedges and fresh chopped parsley to garnish
- Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and sauté 5-6 minutes or until softened. Add the zucchini and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the beans, fresh basil, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, vegetable broth, and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Add orzo to the pot and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Turn off heat and stir in the chopped spinach.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ladle soup into bowls and add a squeeze of lemon and fresh chopped parsley.
If you are not vegan, feel free to sprinkle on Parmesan cheese for serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 2738mgCarbohydrates: 289gFiber: 77gSugar: 40gProtein: 106g