The easiest and best vegetable minestrone recipe with beans and pasta.
Σούπα μινεστρόνε. Minestrone soup is one of those things that can quickly become a disappointment. We’ve had many in our day and although none have been horrid, the vast majority have been kind of blah. A little bland, a little uninspired, a little too unremarkable. The best minestrone soup that we’ve had, one that is full of flavour and pretty remarkable, has come out of our parents’ kitchen.
Now, we may be biased (we are), but this minestrone soup recipe really is fantastic. We have a few ideas of why this is so. First, our parents include sweet potato, which gives this soup a creamy texture and a sweet taste. They are liberal with their spices, including paprika (more sweetness), cumin (a surprise because they don’t actually use cumin often) and oregano (of course!). They also add in whatever beans and small-shaped pasta they have on hand, making this a very convenient and simple recipe, both attributes which indirectly make this minestrone even more delicious.
What is the difference between minestrone soup and vegetable soup?
Think of minestrone as vegetable soup upped a few notches. Minestrone has beans and pasta added to it to make it heartier and thicker than a regular vegetable soup. Although our recipe is for a vegetable minestrone, it can in fact be made with either chicken or beef broth, and it can also have meat added to it. A vegetable soup on the other hand never has meat added to it, and tends to be lighter as it is usually comprised entirely of vegetables and herbs.
Can I make the minestrone soup in advance and reheat it? Does minestrone soup freeze well?
The answer to both of these questions is Yes. The only thing to keep in mind is that the soup will thicken as it sits (because of the pasta) so if you will be enjoying it hours or days after you make it you may need to add more liquid to achieve the consistency you desire. You can add more water, or we recommend more vegetable broth. Keep in mind that the more liquid you add, the more you will be diluting the flavours provided by the spices, so try not to add more than you need.
If you will be freezing your soup, be sure to use an airtight, freezer-safe container and leave about an inch of space at the top (for expansion). Also, always be sure to clearly label and date anything that you freeze.
The recipe says to use either vegetable oil, olive oil or even water to saute the vegetables. Why is this?
Normally we would recommend sauteing the vegetables in olive oil however the options for vegetable oil or water are given in order to address the specific needs which exist during lent. Many Orthodox individuals who fast for lent refrain from using olive oil, and some avoid all oils, on specific days. These options are included to address these restrictions given that we are posting this during lent and that this soup was included in our Great Lent Meal Plan 2021.
What beans should I use for the minestrone soup?
Our recipe indicates that you can use whichever bean that you like. Our parents typically use dry beans that they have soaked and pre-boiled – and you can certainly do that as well. Although we usually suggest using dry beans (and you can read all about that here), in this recipe we feel that canned is fine, for convenience sake. So, also for the sake of convenience, you can use any beans that you may have on hand. We have had this minestrone with chickpeas, black eyed peas and black beans; all variations are equally delicious.
What pasta should I use for the minestrone soup?
You can use any pasta you have on hand as long as it is small enough to be easily eaten in a soup. These days we are particularly fond of ditalini pasta, but this is simply our current phase. We have also had this minestrone soup made with orzo, elbow macaroni and rotelle (the little wheels). You can certainly make your own choice. Wondering what your options are? This is a great article that showcases various pasta shapes and who they can best be used! Find the article here.
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- Soup pot
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil you can substitute water or olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, slivered
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
- 6 cups (1,500 mL) vegetable broth
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp oregano, dry
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 15 ounce canned beans of your choice (we used black beans)
- 1 cup (150 grams) dry small shape pasta (ex. orecchette, ditalini ... )
- 1 cup (25 grams) spinach or kale, chopped
- In a large pot sauté the onion and garlic in the oil (or water) over medium heat for 2—3 minutes until softened. Add the carrots and celery and cook for an additional 3—5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pasta and the spinach or kale. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat.
- Next add in the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Stir regularly so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Five (5) minutes before the pasta is done, add in the spinach or kale.