Marvelous Meatless Minestrone Recipe
Minestrone has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. It’s the most popular soup at Olive Garden, but it’s different in every kitchen when it’s homemade. The ingredients vary depending on the cook’s preferences and what’s available when the mood for minestrone hits.
Even in Italy, minestrone recipes vary because there is no exact “official” recipe. Minestrone means thick vegetable soup. When Rome conquered all of Italy around the second century BC, trade increased, and more people had access to a wider variety of vegetables. That’s when minestrone was born. Centuries later, the word minestrone made its way into the English language, somewhere around 1871.
Minestrone doesn’t take a long time to make. A lovely pot of this tasty soup can be ready in under an hour, it reheats very well, and it tastes even better the next day. I served minestrone to guests recently, and my nephew showed the soup to his son and said, “Look! It has so many vegetables in it; you can’t get everything on a single spoonful!”
Well described! This soup is full of many different vegetables, making a wonderful, hearty soup that’s perfect for vegetarians. Idea: Tuck this recipe away for Lent or put it in your Meatless Monday rotation!
Five Great Reasons Why You Should Eat Minestrone
- Soup takes longer to eat than some foods which makes you slow down long enough that you don’t overeat the way we do when we wolf down something fast. What’s more, eating slowly gives us an opportunity to linger and have a real conversation at the table! That’s very healthy!
- It’s packed with all kinds of vegetables and beans that are loaded with antioxidants and provide great nutrition. The more colorful the better, and you can add any kind of seasonal vegetables like kale, swiss chard, broccoli, parsnips, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and more.
- Vegetables are low in fat and full of fiber, just what the doctor ordered for a heart-healthy Mediterranean-type diet. It helps you feel full longer because it is digested slowly and great for intestinal health, too. It slows down absorption of sugar and gastric emptying.
- Orange and yellow vegetables have beta carotene which is essential for healthy hair, eyes, and skin. A virtual alphabet of vitamins helps to reduce the inflammation that can cause aches and pains.
- Potassium and magnesium present in a vegetable-rich soup like this helps the body release excess fluid that cause fluid retention and swelling.
Here’s How You Make A Delightful Pot Of Minestrone Soup
Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, and celery in a little olive oil until everything is tender, fragrant, and a little translucent. Then add water and a vegetable broth base or packaged vegetable bouillon; (more about that in a minute), all the canned vegetables, the shredded carrots, pepper, the spices, and the kidney beans.
I prefer the Knorr brand vegetable bouillon base. They are not paying me to say so, but it’s great. It comes in large cubes, but I buy it in the restaurant-sized tub because it adds so much flavor to so many things I make. It has a long shelf life, and it makes 11 gallons of broth. Better Than Bouillon also makes a good paste-type vegetable base in a jar. Refer to the label to see how much to use for two quarts.
Let that simmer a while and give all the ingredients a chance to know each other better. Add the pasta and the zucchini ten or fifteen minutes before you serve it, and toss in the spinach with 5 minutes to go. It takes no time to cook the spinach.
Minestrone can sit on the stove longer, of course, but if you are trying to get it on the table, this is all the time you need. Toss a handful of shredded or shaved parmesan on top if you like and serve it up with plenty of crusty bread, and maybe a big green salad for a wonderful meal that’s perfect for cold days.
Here’s a ridiculously easy bread you can make to go with it; start it the night before and bake it the day you make the soup. It looks like it came from a fancy bakery, but it takes absolutely no bread-making skills to make! Bellisimo!!
We are well on our way into soup season! I love it for so many reasons but cooking once and eating twice is my favorite! We often have crusty bread or crackers, a hunk of cheese, and a sliced apple. What do you eat with soup at your house? What’s your favorite soup?
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, pressed or crushed
- 1 cup celery, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 quarts water or vegetable bouillon (If you use water, add vegetable broth base to make 2 quarts. I prefer Knorr brand vegetable bouillon cubes or their bulk vegetable base in the restaurant tub. Better Than Bouillon also makes a good paste-type vegetable base.)
- 1 tsp dry oregano or more to taste
- 1 tsp dried basil or more to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes, approximately 15 ounces, do not drain
- 1 can French cut green beans, approximately 15 ounces, do not drain
- 1 can kidney beans, approximately 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup unpeeled zucchini, cut in half if large, and sliced thin
- 1 cup small shell pasta
- 1 cup or more fresh spinach, chopped (I remove any large stems)
- Grated or shredded fresh parmesan cheese for garnish if desired.
- Saute onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil until tender and fragrant.
- Add water and vegetable broth base or vegetable bouillon cubes to make two quarts of broth. Refer to the label on the product for the amount you need to make the vegetable broth. You can also use packaged vegetable broth or bouillon.
- Add the spices.
- Add undrained petite diced tomatoes and green beans. Add drained and rinsed kidney beans and shredded carrots. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add pasta and zucchini and cook 8-10 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
- Add chopped spinach and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with shredded or grated parmesan cheese if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 114Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g
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