Classic Minestrone Soup to Warm Up on Cold Days (Vegetarian)

There are so many soup recipes out there, but a classic minestrone is my favorite.

Vertical close-up image of a black bowl filled with a tomato soup with assorted veggies and pasta, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I love a hearty soup, but sometimes I have found that these can be too heavy in terms of calories.

This particular recipe is one of those meals that promises a full belly at the end, but it’s so healthy and you won’t feel bloated after you finish an entire bowl of it.

And this is one of the most comforting vegetarian meals you’ll ever make. It’s warm and satisfying.

Plus, when you make it at home, I think it’s so much better than any that you can order for takeout, or heat up from a can.

Vertical top-down image of two bowls and a large pot filled with a tomato, mixed vegetable, and pasta stew next to a white towel, metal spoons, and bowl of grated cheese.

This is the version that will become a family favorite that you will actually crave, and your loved ones will request that you make it all the time.

It’s also a great way to load up on vegetables for the kiddos without them running away screaming when you want to introduce them to more meatless meals.

I may not be a parent yet, but I remember my childhood aversion to vegetables vividly.

Now, as an adult, I absolutely love the variety of vegetables that you’ll find in this recipe. There are tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, green beans, and spinach (or kale, if you prefer).

Vertical image of a spoon pouring grated parmesan cheese over a black bowl filled with a tomato and vegetable stew.

These all pair wonderfully with the rich vegetable broth and simple seasonings that you add to the mix.

The tender pasta soaks up all the flavor that seeps from the vegetables while they cook, so you get an extra burst of tasty goodness in every spoonful. You can even make your meal gluten-free if you use the right kind of pasta.

If you are a comfort food lover, you will go nuts for this recipe. It comes together in just an hour and is perfect for dunking with some crusty bread or fluffy garlic rolls if you feel so inclined.

It all comes together in one pot, too.

This makes for easy cleanup, which I know is something that we can all get behind.

Vertical top-down image of two bowls and a pot filled with a tomato, vegetable, and pasta stew garnished with grated cheese with a spoon inserted into one of the bowls.

If you want to add a little extra heat to the back of every bite, you can add an extra pinch or two of red pepper flakes. My husband loves it when I add a little bit of heat to our stews (but not too much!), so I’m used to doing this on a regular basis.

This recipe also makes for the best leftovers ever. I like to heat up a bowl for lunch the day after I make it.

Note that this recipe does soak up the broth when it cools and sits in the refrigerator. To get more of the soup-like texture that it originally had the next day, add some water or vegetable broth to the bowl before you heat it, to loosen it up.

I usually start with about a quarter cup per bowl, then microwave it for about 1 minute. Check it, give it a stir, and add more liquid as needed, then continue to microwave it for just a bit longer, until it’s piping hot.

Vertical image of a spoon holding up stew over a black bowl.

When you make this recipe, be prepared to fill your home with comforting and familiar aromas. You’ll want to nestle into the couch with your favorite blankets and a bowl of this minestrone, alongside a roaring fire.

Don’t forget that you can freeze this and save it for later as well. I have added instructions to do this at the end of the article, so keep reading for my tips!

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Horizontal image of a plastic ladle holding a large scoopful of an assorted vegetable stew in a pot.

The Best Classic Minestrone

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Looking for the best classic minestrone soup recipe? This is it. Everything comes together in one pot, for a tasty and healthy dinner.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 pinch + 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their liquid
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups small shell, orecchiette, or elbow pasta
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach (or chopped kale with the stems removed)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for serving)


  1. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, garlic, oregano, and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the diced tomatoes and their juices, broth, and water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. 
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in pasta, cannellini or kidney beans, green beans, and greens.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat, then remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, as desired. 
  7. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan before serving, if you like.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: minestrone, soup, vegetarian

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Chop Vegetables, Drain Beans, Grate Cheese, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Get out your cutting board, your favorite vegetable peeler, and a sharp knife, because it’s veggie prepping time!

The key is to make sure you chop all of the vegetables into approximately the same size, so they cook in the same amount of time.

Peel and chop one medium yellow onion.

Peel and chop two medium carrots.

Chop one stalk of celery.

Horizontal image of many bowls of assorted prepped vegetables and seasonings for a vegetarian stew.

Peel and dice one large russet potato.

Next, peel and mince two cloves of garlic. Use your garlic press for this, if you like.

Rinse and drain the cannellini beans in a colander. You could also use kidney beans, if you prefer.

Trim the ends from half a pound of green beans, then chop them into 1-inch pieces.

If you are using kale, remove the tough stems, and roughly chop the leaves.

Grate enough Parmesan cheese until you have 3/4 cup total, if you’d like to use it for garnish.

Chop the fresh herbs, if you are using them. Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Saute Vegetables

In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl it to coat the pan. Once it’s shimmering, add the onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste, and a pinch of salt.

Horizontal image of chopped vegetables cooking in a large pot.

Cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery have softened.

Stir in the potatoes, garlic, oregano, and thyme. Cook until fragrant, continuing to stir frequently, for about 2 minutes.

Step 3 – Bring to a Boil

Stir in the diced tomatoes and their juices, the vegetable broth, water, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper.

Horizontal image of a pot with tomato sauce and mounds of spices.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.

Once it’s boiling, stir in the uncooked pasta, cannellini beans, green beans, and greens.

Step 4 – Simmer

Horizontal image of a plastic ladle holding a large scoopful of an assorted vegetable stew in a pot.

Reduce the mixture to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5 – Finish and Garnish

Horizontal top-down image of two bowls and a pot with stew, with the bowls garnished with grated cheese.

Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve in bowls and top with grated Parmesan.

How Do I Freeze This Soup?

When it comes to freezing this recipe, there are a few steps that you need to follow to make sure it comes out just as tasty reheated as it was when you made it fresh.

Cook the vegetables and pasta until they are al dente. You want them to be just tender but still a little crisp if you plan to freeze a full batch of soup.

Horizontal image of two black bowls filled with a tomato, vegetable, and pasta soup next to a glass bowl of grated parmesan cheese on a white towel.

First, cool the soup down to room temperature before freezing it.

Next, portion out those servings into quart-size freezer bags to accomodate a single serving each. This also allows room for it to expand as it freezes.

That’s it!

Looking for even more comforting soup recipes? Here are some to try next from Foodal:

Are you a soup addict? Tell us about your favorites in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you try it.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 30, 2012. Last updated on October 23, 2020.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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