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Minestrone Soup

Back in the day (the way-back day) when I was in college, I had a brief love affair with minestrone soup. I can’t remember my mom ever making it at home, nor do I remember having it from a can at any point, so I had already spent about 20 years on this earth without minestrone being on my radar. Enter night class. One particular semester I had a night class in a building that was on the outskirts of campus. (As outskirted as you could be up on the bluff!) I would always wander over to Fisher Hall a little early and stop at the little cafe that was nestled in the bottom floor of the building to grab something to eat before class. On a particularly chilly night when I was craving something warm I decided to try the minestrone soup. Not being a vegetable lover, I was shocked at how much I adored that little bowl of soup. I loved the warmth, the heartiness, the beans, and it made me feel at home. From that night on, the minestrone soup was my Monday night ritual before class, and I loved it each and every time. I haven’t eaten it much since college, but always think about how I need to wrangle a recipe that I love, and I’ve finally done so. And it’s every bit as wonderful as I remembered.

This is one of the simplest soups I have ever made, but it does contain one key ingredient – a piece of Parmesan cheese rind. The rind simmers away with the soup and helps to create more of a stock, with an intensified and more developed flavor than if you leave it out. I highly recommend not skipping this!

One of the best things about this recipe is that it is easily customizable to suit your tastes (and what’s currently in your refrigerator). Mix and match flavors, different vegetables, and even types of beans. Want to use kale instead of spinach? Go for it! This is a great formula for a completely customizable vegetable and bean soup.

I also highly recommend eating a bowl with a nice big chunk of homemade focaccia bread :)

One year ago: S’more Nut Bars

Minestrone Soup

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:

2 small leeks (or 1 large), white and light green parts sliced thin crosswise (about ¾ cup)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped small (about ¾ cup)
2 small onions, peeled and chopped small (about ¾ cup)
2 medium stalks celery, trimmed and chopped small (about ¾ cup)
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 1¼ cups)
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and chopped medium (about 1¼ cups)
3 cups stemmed spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained and chopped
8 cups water
1 Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 by 2 inches
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)

Directions:

1. Bring the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, potato, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, water, cheese rind, and salt to a boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the cheese rind.

2. Add the beans and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the pesto. Adjust the seasonings, adding pepper and more salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from The Best Soups and Stews)

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56 Responses to “Minestrone Soup”

  1. Diane on January 19, 2012 at 12:12 am

    IUP grad? Whay year?

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Nope, went to Duquesne :)

      Reply

      • Megan on January 19th, 2012 at 11:16 am

        I knew you were in Pittsburgh but I didn’t know you went to Duquesne! My husband and I did too (and lots of my other family members). This post brings back lots of memories of long night classes and the random hallways in Fisher. I really enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing!

        Reply

        • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 11:23 am

          Hi Megan, What year did you guys graduate? Loved my time up on the bluff :)

          Reply

          • Megan on January 19th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

            He & I graduated in ’04. We each had a brother graduate in ’01 too. We’ve moved away but still get back to visit and the campus been majorly upgraded since, it’s nice to see.

            Whenever I make recipes from your blog I tell my family “I got this recipe from the blogger who bakes and lives in Pittsburgh” now, I’ll be saying “I got this recipe from the blogger who went to Duquense” :-) I was also excited to see the other DU grads in the comments too :-)

            Reply

            • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

              Aw, that’s awesome! I was class of ’02, but ended up graduating in December ’01. My Chief Culinary Consultant also went there. I love seeing all of the changes on campus, always makes me a proud alum :)

  2. Mary @ Bake Break on January 19, 2012 at 1:23 am

    You really can’t go wrong with minestrone – it’s a perfect soup! Thanks for the recipe :)

    Reply

  3. Katrina on January 19, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Perfection!

    Reply

  4. Kiri W. on January 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Looks like your version is love affair worthy :) I have always loved minestrone, since I’ve been on several trips to Italy, but it’s not a staple at our house at all, so I never tried to make it. Time to change that!

    Reply

  5. Jessica on January 19, 2012 at 6:14 am

    I hated night classes! But I have always loved Minestrone Soup. :-)

    Reply

  6. Suzi on January 19, 2012 at 7:21 am

    This looks beautiful and definitely the parmesan rind is a must. I like the pesto addition too. Very hearty and healthy.

    Reply

  7. leslie on January 19, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Ahhhyes… I love the parmesan rind trick. I often throw it in my spaghetti sauce! This soup sounds comforting!

    Reply

  8. Blog is the New Black on January 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

    A classic!

    Reply

  9. Anna on January 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I’m reading this as I sit at my desk at work, with a space heater about a foot away from my feet. Oh, it sounds sooooo good (even at 8 a.m.)!

    Reply

  10. Ryan on January 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Oh I love minestrone soup! I’ve never made it though, I’ll have to try this recipe.

    Reply

  11. Morgan {Confections from the Cody Kitchen} on January 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

    LOVE minestrone! It’s always a good option for me because my sister is a vegetarian, and it something everyone else already loves :)

    Reply

  12. Libby on January 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

    People won’t understand how out of the way Fisher Hall is on that tiny campus – I’m only sad that the deli was no longer there when I attended :( DUQ Grad ’09 :) Love the blog!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Aw that is a bummer! But yay for another DU grad! :)

      Reply

  13. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on January 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

    This sou looks amazing and I think I have all the ingredients too, except for the onions, but maybe I’ll replace them with shallots? This is going on my must make list!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Oh yeah you could definitely sub shallots! Enjoy!

      Reply

  14. Sweettwist_Meg on January 19, 2012 at 9:55 am

    YUM! This is one of my fav’s as well. I could use that now, my office is freezing.

    Reply

  15. Douglas Kitchen on January 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I remember always loving Progresso minestrone when I was a kid. I haven’t made it from scratch in a while so this might be some inspiration!

    Reply

  16. Midwestern Belle on January 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

    It has suddenly gotten SO cold here in Kansas…So this soup looks perfect right about now! Can’t wait to try it.

    Reply

  17. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on January 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I’d love to try making this – thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  18. natalie (the sweets life) on January 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

    last year i made a bnut squash and kale minestrone, but i love the idea of this classic recipe (esp with the pesto!!) –I can’t get enough of warm soup right now!

    Reply

  19. Maggie on January 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Minestrone soup is such a wonderful classic. My mom would make this with a loaf of homemade bread and it was such a cozy winter meal. She did the cheese rind in the soup and I agree with not skipping this step. Great recipe!

    Reply

  20. Terri on January 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Pittsburgh gal and Duquesne grad – I knew this blog was special. If you were a student there way-back in the day then I was one way-way-way-back in the day!

    Recipe sounds great – will have to try it this weekend.

    Reply

  21. Sandra on January 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    We’re having a cold and blustery day here and this would go down easily. Interesting note about simmering the soup with the rind from the cheese.

    Reply

  22. Danielle @BigLifeLittleGarden on January 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    SItting here with a stuffy nose and coughing while thinking this soup could so be the solution to my misery!! I wish I could muster up the energy to go buy the few ingredients we don’t have on hand or in the garden. I will feel better tomorrow for at least the reason that I have to make this soup!!!

    Reply

  23. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on January 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Lovely soup! I don’t make minestrone nearly enough… And, it’s so healthy, too!

    Reply

  24. Laura on January 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    If you adapt the recipe for a crockpot, when would you put in the cheese rind? At the beginning?

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 19th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Yep, at the beginning!

      Reply

  25. Nancy R on January 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    This may be a dumb question..but can I purchase the parmasan cheese rind a any grocery? Ibuy frash but I can;t remember if it has a rind ! HELP!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 20th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Nancy, I just found out that a grocery store I was at today sells just the rinds, although they have a very large artisan cheese section. I would ask someone in the cheese department and they should know!

      Reply

  26. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) on January 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Great minestrone recipe! Gorgeous photos.

    Reply

  27. Silvia on January 20, 2012 at 4:45 am

    Minestrone is always great and one can experiment a little bit too, for example I love it with a pinch of curcuma, the flavours are enhanced and the colour is just lovely.

    Reply

  28. Bridget on January 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Is that the focaccia you made in the background? I have been thinking about that for days…..:)

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 20th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Yes! It was wonderful with the soup :)

      Reply

  29. Sandie on January 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    This soup looks great! Perfect for a weekend we’re suppose to have… Cold & Snowy!

    Reply

  30. Jena on January 21, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Started thinking about how it was a good minestrone soup day this morning, but soup-making will have to wait. I had a roast waiting to be roasted. Sometime this weekend, maybe. Thanks for the recipe! (I’ve only just discovered how much I like minestrone, so I wasn’t sure how to make it.)

    Reply

  31. Jen at The Three Little Piglets on January 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    We were making some kind of puree soup in class one night (I’m in culinary school) and the girl forgot to take the Parmesan rind out before pureeing it, and the texture was awful. But the flavor from that cheese was unbelievable!

    Reply

  32. Brittany on January 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I love minestrone soup, but there always seems to be a variation in taste at different restaurants. I’m excited to be able to find the perfect taste for myself!

    Reply

  33. AustinCfoster on January 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I’ve made minestrone many times with a different twist each time. I love this kind of soup/stew and always tend to make it thicker than soup-like. I loved your version we ate tonight. I only made a couple subs…didn’t have zucchini so upped carrots, etc and used young beet greens instead of spinach. Sautéed the initial veggies in a bit of EVOO before adding liquids. I put in a tablespoon of concentrated vegetable base, and used just 6 cups water. The cheese rind is essential to add the richness to a vegetarian soup like this, so be sure to get one. Love the pesto addition to give it the Italian seasoning without needing to chop a lot of herbs. So satisfying ..perfect for a Sunday football dinner!

    Reply

  34. Tamara @jemofthesouth on January 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Minestrone is one of my favorite soups! I tried a recipe a last year and it was a total bust. :-( Your recipe looks delicious. I will have to try it this year. Wish me luck!

    Reply

  35. Susan on January 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I just tried this soup tonight, and it is delicious! I’ve never made minestrone before… heck I’ve never made most stuff before! I started following some cooking blogs to get ideas and start learning. Really love your blog and recipes. Thanks for helping me get off campbell’s and onto homemade!

    Reply

  36. RisaG on January 31, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I always keep the rinds from my parmesan and grana padano. You never know when you need it. This looks good enough to eat. Making me hungry.

    Reply

  37. Uffda on February 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Tried this tonight, and it is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  38. morri on April 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve already made this soup twice, and, WOW, IS THIS RECIPE A KEEPER OR WHAT?! It’s definitely, hands down, the best minestrone I’ve ever had. Although, truth be told, the competition wasn’t that fierce, because it’s next to impossible to buy ready-made minestrone where I Iive, and I’d only cooked it once before (it was so bland that I only managed to choke it down with copious amounts of Marmite), but shhh. Let’s just say it was the best ever and leave it at that :D I think it’s the parmesan rind (it gives some nice umami flavour) and the pesto that do the trick. And I really, really love how the various vegetables give you all sorts of different consistencies: there are some soft carrots, and crunchy celery, and creamy potatoes, and seaweed-like spinach. As a die-hard veggie fan, I couldn’t not love this soup even if I tried.

    Reply

  39. Jen on April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Nice recipe.
    Here’s another version I like as well.
    http://www.wascene.com/food-drink/italian-minestrone-soup/
    Thanks for sharing :)
    Jen

    Reply

  40. Jessica on June 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Made this tonight – SO GOOD!!! I signed up for a farm share and wanted to use the kale in something yummy and I remembered you said kale would work in this too! The farm share also came with some radishes so I added those as well. Best minestrone I have ever had!!

    Reply

  41. Jessica on June 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Question – if I wanted to put pasta in this soup instead of potato – how would I do it? Do you cook the pasta first or let it cook in the soup??

    Thanks!!! :)

    Reply

  42. John on August 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tosi-s-minestrone-soup-174830/
    Here is a link to the best Minestrone I can find, Tosi’s Minestrone. Tosi’s is a high class Italian restaurant in Southwest Michigan, where I live. It has strong ties to Chicago which is a little more than 100 miles away. Also associated with the Tosi’s is the Bit O’ Swiss bakery which has a national reputation for fine french breads and pastries. Tim Foley owns the Bakery and has been awards for his breads both awards from the US bakers guild and the French. Pretty sure you will not be this way but file it away as a place to visit if ever traveling in the Stevensville, MI area between Chicago and Detroit.

    Reply

  43. Patti on February 18, 2014 at 9:12 am

    can this be done on low in a slow cooker?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 20th, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Hi Patti, I haven’t tried it, but I think it should work okay.

      Reply

  44. Kristine on July 2, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Does all the content of the canned tomato go into the soup, or just the tomatoes? I thought whether the juice from the can should go in as well.
    Thanks for sharing, your blog is always an inspiration source for me :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 2nd, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Hi Kristine, No, as the recipe states, it should be drained. Do not include any of the liquid.

      Reply

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