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[/donotprint]
- 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 (90 g) stemmed spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
- 28 ounces (793.79 g) canned whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained and chopped
- 8 cups (2 l) water
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 by 2 inches
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 15 ounces (425.24 g) canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup (62 g) pesto, homemade or store-bought
- 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.
- 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Great recipe. I did use my own veg stock for this as I was making it for lent. It turned out so well my son who doesn’t eat veggies asked for seconds. I also included the juice from the tomatoes, and liked that a lot. The pesto didn’t thrill me tho, I tasted it with out and then with and while my hubby liked it, I didn’t. Still a wonderful recipe tho and one I’m happy to put into my recipe binder. Thank you!
Delicious! I used green beans instead of zucchini because that was what I had, but other than that I followed the recipe to a T and it was amazing. The stock was so flavorful. My 7-year old LOVED it with a grilled cheese sandwich. So good!!
Have made this twice now. It’s easy to make and is delicious. Added some of the juice from the tons of tomato and swamped 250ml of water for stock.
Made a big batch to freeze leftovers for lunches.
I don’t like to waste food, so when I prepare kale or collards I chop up the tough stems and put them in the freezer to await the next time I make minestrone. It’s a few additional antioxidants and some fiber, and the stems give the broth a wonderful “greens” taste as they simmer. Once they’ve cooked a while they’re not too tough to eat anymore.
Just made this tonight for the first time — so easy! And SO delicious! Was perfect on a cold night. Thanks for another great recipe :)
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 :)
Hi Kristine, No, as the recipe states, it should be drained. Do not include any of the liquid.
can this be done on low in a slow cooker?
Hi Patti, I haven’t tried it, but I think it should work okay.
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.
Could you post this again, John. I am looking for this specific one. It’s no longer on the server.
Thanks so much!!
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??
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!!
Here’s another version I like as well.
Thanks for sharing :)
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.
Tried this tonight, and it is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.)
This soup looks great! Perfect for a weekend we’re suppose to have… Cold & Snowy!
Is that the focaccia you made in the background? I have been thinking about that for days…..:)
Yes! It was wonderful with the soup :)
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.
Great minestrone recipe! Gorgeous photos.
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!!!
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!
If you adapt the recipe for a crockpot, when would you put in the cheese rind? At the beginning?
Yep, at the beginning!
Lovely soup! I don’t make minestrone nearly enough… And, it’s so healthy, too!
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!!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
I’d love to try making this – thanks for the recipe!
It has suddenly gotten SO cold here in Kansas…So this soup looks perfect right about now! Can’t wait to try it.
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!
YUM! This is one of my fav’s as well. I could use that now, my office is freezing.
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!
Oh yeah you could definitely sub shallots! Enjoy!
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!
Aw that is a bummer! But yay for another DU grad! :)
LOVE minestrone! It’s always a good option for me because my sister is a vegetarian, and it something everyone else already loves :)
Oh I love minestrone soup! I’ve never made it though, I’ll have to try this recipe.
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.)!
Ahhhyes… I love the parmesan rind trick. I often throw it in my spaghetti sauce! This soup sounds comforting!
This looks beautiful and definitely the parmesan rind is a must. I like the pesto addition too. Very hearty and healthy.
I hated night classes! But I have always loved Minestrone Soup. :-)
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!
You really can’t go wrong with minestrone – it’s a perfect soup! Thanks for the recipe :)
IUP grad? Whay year?
Nope, went to Duquesne :)
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!
Hi Megan, What year did you guys graduate? Loved my time up on the bluff :)
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 :-)
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 :)