Hearty Homemade Minestrone

Hearty Homemade Minestrone

Details

Packed with delicious vegetables, this healthy and hearty soup will make you feel like you just ate at an Italian Nona's house.
  • Serves: 6
  • Active Time: 1 hr 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
  • Views: 41,357
  • Success: 99%

Steps

Step 1: Preparing Your Mise en Place

• 1/2 cup dried cannellini beans* (approx. 1 cup cooked)
• 2 oz pancetta** (optional)
• 1/2 cup carrots (approx. 2)
• 1/2 cup celery (approx. 2)
• 1 1/2 cups onion (1 medium)
• 3 large garlic cloves
• 1 - 15 oz can whole tomatoes

Method

*If cooking dried beans from scratch, soak over night and cook them first. If using canned cannellini beans, drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.

**Note: For a complete plant-based (vegan) version of this soup omit the pancetta and use a vegan pesto and parmesan cheese, if desired.

To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the pancetta (if using). Émincé the garlic lengthwise. Cut the carrots, celery and onion all into medium-dice pieces. Drain, seed and chop the tomatoes (the remaining juice can be used in another recipe). Set aside.

Note: De-seeding the tomatoes is optional, but it is highly recommended because the seeds can often be bitter.

Step 2: Starting the Soup

• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
• pinch of sea salt
• 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
• 12 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

Method

To start the soup, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-heat. Add the olive oil followed by the pancetta. Cook it until it is light-golden in color.

Add the carrots, celery and onion along with a pinch of salt. Sweat the mirepoix (you may have to turn the heat down slightly) for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften but do not brown. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to soften and release its aroma (do not let the garlic brown either).

Next, add the chopped tomatoes, bouquet garni and the parmesan rind, followed by the stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Preparing the Other Vegetables & Pasta

• 1 1/2 cups Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
• 1 cup zucchini
• 4 cups kale
• 2 oz tubetti pasta (or 1/3 cup of other small, dried pasta)
• salt (for cooking pasta)

Method

Peel and cut the potatoes into medium dice and place into cold water. Dice the zucchini the same size.

Trim the kale from the stem and cut or tear the leaves into rough, bite-sized pieces. Wash and spin dry. Set aside.

Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes, start to cook the pasta in a pot of salted water.

Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt (about 1 teaspoon per liter/quart of water). Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

In the meantime, go ahead and finish the soup.

Step 4: Finishing the Soup

• sea salt, to taste
• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

Once the soup has simmered for about 15 minutes and you have started to cook the pasta, add the potatoes to the soup. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes then add the zucchini and beans, followed by the drained, al dente pasta. Season to taste.

Add the kale and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season the soup again with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5: Garnishing and Serving the Soup

• grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
• pesto (optional)
• extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Method

To serve the soup, ladle it into warm bowls. Garnish with a dollop of pesto and top with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Chef's Notes

For a complete plant-based (vegan) version of this soup omit the pancetta and use a vegan pesto and parmesan cheese, if desired.

46 Comments

  • James P
    James P
    Made this last night for dinner. It was good, used fresh ingrediants from our garden and homemade stock. Definately needs the pesto and Parmeasan to finish it off otherwise its a little bland.
  • Maricela H
    Maricela H
    Excellent recipe. So good!
  • Cynthia M
    Cynthia M
    Fried the pancetta really crispy and pushed the mirepoix to just a touch brown on edges of some pieces. Also used a very large piece of parmesan rind. Think this made this version's broth more flavorful than previous minestrone recipes I've used. Love it!
  • C.j.
    C.j.
    In many recipes they call for a bay leaf what is the reason for one leaf does that add any flavor to the meal?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Indeed bay leaves, even just one, adds flavor to a dish. The more you use, the stronger the flavor. If at all possible try, using fresh bay leaves, they are wonderful! I often add 2 or 3 to the dishes I am cooking but I really like the flavor they add. Here is a quote regarding bay leaves that I found really great - "As far as I can tell, it's like having a harp in an orchestra. You can't really hear the harp while they're playing, but if you take it out you could swear something's missing."
  • C.j.
    C.j.
    Thanks for the info. I will add the "harp" to my dish and try to hear the difference.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You do bring up a good point C.j.G. Many herbs or ingredients on thier own may not seem to bring a ton of flavor to sauces, stew, stocks etc. and bay leaves definitely falls into that category. To really learn about the impact of an ingredient like bay leaves, you may want to try using them to the extremes. Try a familiar dish that uses bay leaves but omit them (it might be more helpful to try a dish that you already know the flavo). Then make the dish again, but use about fives times the amount the next time. Once, you identify the single taste it brings to each dish, you will have a better appreciation for how an ingredient adds flavor. Or to make it more simply try adding 3 or 4 bay leaves to your potatoes then next time you boil or steam them. The smell and flavor they add is wonderful. Cheers!
  • C.j.
    C.j.
    Made some steamed potatoes( I always steam) added 5 bay leaves and that made the whole house smell really good and the potatoes were fantastic. When ever I steam from now on I will use bay leaves,now I will have to plant a bay tree. Thanks for the info.
  • C.j.
    C.j.
    Most recipes use the these terms when cooking vegetables and pasta etc. "until they soften, cook until al dente" . When I cook I like to use a instant thermometer is there any guide for using this method of cooking?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Cooking is about learning to use ALL of your senses. Digital thermometers are really only useful for certain tasks such as testing the internal temperature of larger cuts of meat, the temperature of a particular cooking liquid/oil or when doing sugar work and certain types of pastry-related tasks where exact temperatures need to be targeted for optimum results. It is not feasible to test the temperature of small or bite-sized ingredients. Terms such as "soften" or "al-dente" refer to texture (not temperature), so you need to taste and use other senses (sight/smell/sound/touch, etc) when cooking and testing these types of ingredients. Awareness is key. New cooks must form the habit of tasting the food they cook at every point (wherever applicable). This is the only way they are going to learn texture, flavoring, seasoning and when things are "done". By practicing over and over again, you will learn to trust your senses and instincts. Just a note regarding the discussion threads. If your question is more general, please start a new thread in the forum. It is helpful for other students if all questions attached to each lesson or recipe are directly related to the subject at hand. Thanks and cheers!
  • Paula W
    Paula W
    Would this soup freeze well? It is just two of us now. I would love it if you would mention in you recipes if it is possible to freeze them. Thank you. Paula Wood
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    While we have not frozen this soup ourselves, I'm sure it would be fine. Will it be the same as when it's first made? Not likely, but it should still be good. I say test it out to see if you are happy with the end results. As for mentioning in each recipe whether or not they are good for freezing, this is generally not something we do as it's not always a simple answer of "yes (or no) this dish can be frozen". There are just so many variables, e.g., does the dish contain cream, potatoes, or ingredients that will be negatively affected by excess moisture due to being frozen? Here is an article called "Foods That Freeze Well" that you mind find helpful. Cheers!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    p.s. there are also quite a few discussions in the forum on this subject that you may want to check out. Also, here is a link to thread that recommends a few books on the subject of freezing foods, that you may find helpful. Cheers!
  • Paula W
    Paula W
    Thank you.. I uploaded the book, Foods that freeze well, onto iBook. I'm excited to read it. P
  • Bradley W
    Bradley W
    I keep a kosher diet which means I avoid all forms of pork and shellfish. Can you suggest another meat to use in place of the pancetta? I made minestrone once before I began the kosher eating and found the pancetta to be awesome in the soup.
  • Bradley W
    Bradley W
    I noticed you suggest soaking the beans prior to use. As one who cooks mostly organic I have found that after inspecting the beans for rocks and bad beans it is necessary to wash the beans. The first time I washed the organic beans it took three washings in cool water before I had clear water. After this experience it has made me realize the resulting meal would be far more pleasing to the palate than one which included dirt. I wash the beans in a container that contains both the beans and an inch of water above the beans. I run my fingers through the beans in the water. Pour off the water and repeat as many times as necessary to allow a clear water pour from the beans. Once washed I then proceed with the overnight soak.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Sometimes with dietary restrictions, there are no substitutions so you can simply omit the pancetta. There is no real substitute for the saltiness/flavor that these types of pork products provide. Perhaps you can experiment with turkey bacon or other vegetarian products that simulate pork products. Minestrone can also be made completely vegetarian to suit the required dietary needs/tastes. It is helpful if you bookmark this link that offers plenty of suggested food substitutions. In regards to cooking dried legumes, there is an entire lesson in the Cooking School on this subject. In fact, this minestrone soup recipe is one of the supporting practice recipes for that lesson. Cheers!
  • Monique M
    Monique M
    The preparation took a little time- but then everything else is pretty easy. Worked excellent, but I do think the parmesan rind and the homemade stock made a difference. I also liked to touch of finishing with a bit of pesto
  • Gregory O
    Gregory O
    Prepared the minestrone using this recipe as part of my first course (The Cook's Roadmap - knife skills) at Rouxbe. Wow what an uplifting experience! Leftover soup the next day was even better! I must admit after I did all my knife practice on all the veggies and ingredients in this recipe my wrist was cramping a little...but it was a "good" pain. :).
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Gregory- Thank you for your enthusiasm and support for what we do at Rouxbe. We love the feedback and the engagement. If you'd like to post Questions for Discussion in the Cook's Roadmap Course, you can do that directly from the task page in that course. That way, all students in the course can chime in, add comments, and respond to questions. That page is here: "Task 23". Keep up the great work!
  • Jerry B
    Jerry B
    I made this soup with sundried tomatoes in place of the pancetta. I eat vegitarian, so it was a very easy sub, and added a sweet but mature flavor. Hard to describe, but very pleasing. My only issue with this soup is that I hate beans, and you can imagine how those go over... ;)
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Great thinking Jerry. As for beans... do you not like all beans or some beans? What about lentils? Just curious, as being vegetarian without beans is tricky.
  • Jerry B
    Jerry B
    Texture.. Oh dear god the texture! I have always had issues with mushy, or pasty things, and beans are right there from firm beans to well cooked - they are mush. I love potatoes for example, but gag on mashed potatoes. Boiled potatoes? Just fine. It is once it turns mushy, I am a wuss. I tended to swallow the beans whole, or make sure I got other veggies on my spoon at the same time. I am a big boy and I can eat things I know are good for me, I just have to trick my body. I have some french lentils in the pantry. Have not decided on the use yet. Soups are a cop out for making myself get used to flavors and textures, but they work! I can hide so much. I was thinking to make roasted onions carrots and turnips (of the "swede" variety), then throw the lentils into a veg stock, and add the hot roasted veggies and simmer for a few minutes once the lentils are done. Should give it a sweet and nummy flavor. Any other pairings you can recommend?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Jerry- Too bad to hear about the texture aversion, but I get it. It's visceral. You might like to try corona beans. They are very large and meaty feeling, with plenty of chew. That soup sounds great and you can take the flavor profile in any direction. I think this would taste great with just some fresh herbs, plenty of seasoning, and finished with a drop of good olive oil. You can also go to Mexico with this dish and add a bit of cumin, ground red chilies and lime juice to finish.
  • Debbie D
    Debbie D
    I'm going to use my food mill to de-seed the canned tomatoes. Using this method, I'll end up with tomato puree rather than chunks of tomato as shown in the instructional video. Does this matter?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    "Does it matter?", you ask. There is no yes, or no answer to that question as it really depends on the results you are looking for. If you are okay for the soup to be more red in overall color and for it to have a slightly more tomato flavor (due to the fact that the tomato will be throughout the soup, rather then bigger pieces here and there), then no it does not matter at all. This is where you are free to play around, you might just find that you prefer the soup with the tomatoes being passed through the food mill. Next time, you might try making the soup with bigger pieces of tomatoes to compare the look and taste. Hope that helps Debbie. Cheers!
  • Juan jesus R
    Juan jesus R
    Hi, Why you cook pasta in plain water instead of in the stock with the rest of ingredients? Thanks a lot, JJ
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Pasta is generally cooked in water and not stock; however, if you want to try cooking it in stock for the soup, you can do so. Cheers!
  • Juan jesus R
    Juan jesus R
    Ok thanks, in this case I prefer to cook pasta in stock for a thicker soup Rgds, JJ
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    I made this soup with garden vegetables, substituting crook neck squash for the zucchini. It was very good, especially with garlic bread. Thanks
  • Jaimi S
    Jaimi S
    I am cooking this soup now using the onions, celery and carrots from the Professional Cook Certification course knife skills lessons. So nice to have a good use of the vegetables! The soup is smelling great too!
  • Kristy M
    Kristy M
    I just made this soup and it is delicious! My only question is that when I finished making it, there are still clumps of unmelted cheese from the rind. Is this how it's suppose to be or did I do something wrong? Thanks!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    If there was still a lot of actual cheese on the rind, then this will produce more clumps of unmelted cheese. The rind that was added to this particular soup was quite dry and really just used to add some flavor. That being said, if the soup was good and you didn't mind the extra melted cheese bits then that's okay too. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Yuseph K
    Yuseph K
    I made this yesterday and it was okay, maybe a little bland. I didn't use the parmesan rind and I wonder if it explains it. What is your suggestion for salting during this dish? Also, how do you suggest using frozen mirepoix (I often cut veggies and put it in the freezer)? Would you completely defrost before?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Yuseph- If the rind was omitted, then additional salt was certainly needed. Next time, try to season throughout and taste to see how it changes. As for the mirepoix, it can be used in soup (sweated) in either the frozen or thawed form. Good luck! ~Ken
  • Brooke  S
    Brooke S
    I made this tonight, and the soup is a real winner! I substituted smoked ham for the pancetta and also added some hickory liquid smoke to add additional depth to the flavor. I also made a nut-free pesto from skinnytaste.com. This will definitely be a staple in our house-hold moving forward. Yum!
  • Caroline Z
    Caroline Z
    I made this for my family, who aren't big soup-eaters, and they totally loved it! Great recipe - there are so many delicious flavours that it barely needed seasoning. (The cheese makes a huge difference in the minestrone). 10/10
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Glad you enjoyed it Caroline! ~Ken
  • Karl M
    Karl M
    I love this soup I've made it three times now and successfully frozen it down to (its still good but its at its best straight out the pan) one question though, the recipe asks us to spin the kale after it been washed before adding it to the the "wet" soup. I just wondered why it was necessary to spin it? seriously though, its a terrific recipe!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Karl- So, the need to spin the kale so it is dry is not great. That is correct, since it is soup after all. Note the recipe is just following standard process for prepping vegetables - that is to wash and dry them before use. ~Ken
  • Diana  S
    Diana S
    My family enjoyed it, it is a great winter soup. I did add seasoning such as oregano, paprika, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder to give it more of kick. We love spices. For substitutions- I didn't have parmesan but did use manchego, which was also a nice touch. I couldn't find tubetti pasta so I used elbow instead. Overall, I would repeat on a long winter weekend.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Great to hear, Diana. The other pasta shapes work fine as long as they are still small enough. I like adding a bit of heat as well... with some chilies on top. ~Ken
  • John M
    John M
    One of the best soups I have made. Just by reading the recipe and looking at the video, I did not think the soup would turn out as well as it did. The pesto and the cheese made it great. Use a pasta that can hold it's shape after reheating.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Glad you liked it John. ~Ken
  • Vivian H
    Vivian H
    I did not include the last part of the recipe with the potatoes or pasta. Other than that I followed the recipe closely and it was delicious. Loved the pesto idea and it worked very well. Delicious soup ! But it took a looooong time to prepare......
  • Kirk B Rouxbe Staff
    Kirk B
    Thanks so much Vivian! It sounds like you are really enjoying your experience with Rouxbe! Thank you, Chef Kirk

Leave A Comment

Please login or join the Rouxbe community to leave a comment.