Made with small pasta and loads of veggies in a tomato broth base, this Minestrone Soup is reminiscent of classic Pasta e Ceci and Pasta Fagioli. It’s a hearty soup but not a heavy one, as there’s no creamy base, and it can be ready and on the table in under an hour for a satisfying, filling dinner!
Serve with a slice of our Dutch oven bread to mop up the last bits of broth for a complete meal.
Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
This is a copycat Olive Garden minestrone soup – and we think it tastes even better than theirs! Made with small pasta and loads of veggies in a tomato broth base, this easy vegetarian minestrone soup is reminiscent of the classic Pasta e Ceci and Pasta Fagioli. It’s a hearty soup but not a heavy one, as there’s no creamy base, and it can be ready and on the table in under an hour!
I love making this soup when I need to clean out the fridge – I call it a “kitchen sink” type of soup, because you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Stick with the classics in this recipe or add in some green beans, butternut squash, cabbage, other varieties of beans, or whatever else you may have on hand or just prefer in your soup.
Is Minestrone Soup Healthy?
In general, yes, minestrone soup is healthy. It’s full of veggies and high in protein, thanks to the kidney beans. In addition, it’s broth-based instead of rich and creamy, so it’s lower calorie as well.
However, it is not a low carb or keto soup as there is pasta involved. If you need a low carb version, try omitting the pasta and potatoes and adding in some extra vegetables.
Minestrone Soup Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this minestrone soup recipe.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Olive oil – Used to sauté the vegetables.
- Vegetables – Diced onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, and potatoes are added to this soup. (We prefer Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe.)
- Tomato paste – Enhances the tomato flavor in the broth.
- Canned tomatoes – Do not drain the tomatoes before adding to the soup.
- Ditalini pasta – This is one of our favorite tiny pastas. It can be replaced with another tiny pasta if you can’t find it.
- Kidney beans – Drain and rinse prior to adding to the soup.
- Unsalted butter – Adds a rich flavor to the broth.
- Seasonings – Fresh, roughly chopped thyme and dried oregano give that Italian flavor to the soup. Bay leaves are also added, as well as salt and pepper.
- Parsley – An optional garnish.
- Grated parmesan – Optional, but recommended for flavor and as a garnish.
Here are a few ways to make the best minestrone soup for your own taste.
- Hate kale? Replace with spinach. Spinach can easily be used in this recipe and it’s really just a matter of preference.
- Any tiny pasta will work. Our favorite is ditalini, but if you can’t find it, small shells, orzo, or pastina are good alternatives.
- Use whatever you have on hand. Kidney beans can be replaced with any other white beans, chicken broth can be used instead of vegetable broth, and any other variety of vegetables can be added. For a kick, you might want to try fire roasted tomatoes instead of regular ones.
- Does minestrone soup have meat? Italian minestrone soup is usually vegetarian but you can add meat, if desired. Italian sausage, ground beef, and chicken breast can all be used. Just cook the meat prior to adding it to the soup. You can also use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.
- Can I make this vegan? While this minestrone soup recipe is vegetarian, you can easily make it vegan. For vegan minestrone soup, simply swap the butter for olive oil at the end and leave off the cheese.
How to Make Minestrone Soup
Making the best minestrone soup isn’t difficult at all. Here’s a brief summary:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Sauté the aromatics. Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the potatoes and zucchini, then the tomato paste, thyme, and oregano. Mix together. Stir in the broth, canned tomatoes, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the pasta. Stir in the pasta, kidney beans, and kale. Simmer for 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Add in the butter.
- Serve. Serve immediately topped with parsley, parmesan, and rustic bread.
This soup is extremely flavorful from all the different vegetables, broth, and seasonings simmering for a while. It’s best served with crusty bread, like my Dutch oven bread, to soak up all that delicious broth. I also like to top it with some grated parmesan at the end.
How to Store Minestrone Soup
- How to store leftovers. Allow your soup to cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Note that the soup will thicken as it stands and the noodles will absorb a lot of broth. The longer this soup is stored, the noodles will begin to break down and get mushy.
- How to reheat leftovers. Leftover minestrone soup can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave. You may need to thin the soup a bit with some broth.
- Can you freeze Minestrone Soup? Minestrone soup freezes very well without the noodles, which continue to absorb the broth. Once defrosted, the pasta tends to get mushy. I recommend omitting the noodles and cooking up a fresh batch after the soup has thawed. Transfer cooled soup to an airtight container, remove as much air as possible, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave or stovetop and add in a fresh batch of cooked noodles.
More Soup Recipes:
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- French Onion Soup
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Taco Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 cup Yukon gold potatoes (1/2 inch-diced)
- 1 medium zucchini (1/2 inch-diced)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon thyme (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 15 ounces can diced tomatoes (undrained)
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup dry ditalini pasta
- 15 ounces canned kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 cups chopped kale (or spinach)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- fresh chopped parsley , for serving (optional)
- grated parmesan , for serving (optional)
- Dutch oven bread , for serving (optional)
- Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery; sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
- Add the potatoes and zucchini; mix everything together.
- Add the tomato paste, thyme, and oregano; mix together.
- Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), water, bay leaves, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very light simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta, kidney beans, and kale. Bring to a gentle bubble and simmer for about 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked, but not mushy.
- Add the butter and mix until melted.
- Serve immediately with fresh chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan, and some rustic bread to mop up the broth!