This hearty Minestrone Soup is perfect for a warming lunch or dinner. A healthy vegetable soup that’s low in calories and big on flavour! Make a big batch and use my easy freezer hack to store.
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Published January 2014 | Updated August 2019
Loyal blog readers will know I am a huge fan of soup and this classic Italian Minestrone is probably the soup I make most often. I gave this old recipe an update, simplifying it, adding step by step photos and a recipe video. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Minestrone is a great way to eat your way to your 5-a-day vegetables – this healthy soup is packed with veggie goodness. It is also freaking delicious if I say so myself!
Minestrone meaning and origins
So what’s the story behind this hearty vegetable soup? Well first let’s look into the name. ‘Minestrone’ means “that which is served” from minestrare, “to serve”.
Minestrone is a thick soup made with a variety of seasonal vegetables including onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes plus beans and pasta or rice.
There’s no definitive recipe for minestrone as any vegetables can be used, depending on what is seasonally available. Some versions also include meat although that is less common.
I have used my favourite trio of vegetables – finely chopped onions, carrots and celery – as the base of the soup. I have also added leeks, tinned chopped tomatoes, cannelini beans and mini pasta shapes called stellini (little stars). Use gluten-free pasta if that is a concern – any small pasta can be used.
Is Minestrone vegetarian?
This particular minestrone recipe is actually vegan if you don’t add any cheese. Add a sprinkling of grated hard Italian cheese and the soup becomes vegetarian.
How to make Minestrone soup
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
STEP 1. Heat the olive oil (or use a cooking spray) in a large saucepan. Add the onion, leeks, celery and carrots and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
STEP 2. Stir in the beans, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil.
STEP 3. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
STEP 4. Add your pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked. If the liquid has reduced too much you may need to add some hot water.
STEP 5. Add lemon juice and stir in the parsley. Remove the bay leaves check the seasoning. Serve hot, sprinkled with the cheese and some croutons if you like.
Can you freeze Minestrone?
I have to share this soup hack which has revolutionised my office lunches. It is, simply, freezing the soup in silicone muffin moulds and bringing in just the right amount (3 cubes) to have for lunch. Ideally this should be frozen before any pasta is added.
Fill a couple of silicone muffin moulds with cooled soup and freeze them, uncovered. Once the soup is frozen, pop the soup cubes out of the muffin mould and put in a freezer bag. Seal the bag, trying to get most of the air out, and use the soup within 6-8 weeks. When you defrost the soup you may need to add little water if it’s too thick.
This recipe is slimming friendly and makes for a great light lunch. Avoid adding croutons unless you make them using high fibre wholemeal bread.
There’s 8 SmartPoints per serving for those following Weight Watchers. One serving is only around 250 calories (without any extra toppings).
Try my Delicious Soup Recipes!
- 1 tbsp olive oil or use olive oil cooking spray
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 leeks white parts only, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks finely diced
- 3 carrots finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 400 g | 14 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 400 g | 14 oz tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 litre | 4 1/4 cups vegetable stock
- 60 g | 2 oz small pasta shapes I used stellini
- 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan optional
- Salt and pepper to season
- Heat the olive oil (or use a cooking spray) in a large saucepan. Add the onion, leeks, celery, carrots, bay leaves and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
- Add the beans, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Add your pasta and simmer for whatever the recommended cooking time is. If the liquid has reduced too much you may need to add some hot water.
- Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with the cheese and some croutons if you like.