Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup

This thick and hearty minestrone soup satisfies! Full of healthy veggies and bursting with savory, comforting flavor. Recipe on

Since it’s bread bowl month and all…

it only makes sense to share a new soup recipe too. 🙂

This thick and hearty minestrone soup satisfies! Full of healthy veggies and bursting with savory, comforting flavor. Recipe on

I’m not really sure if I should call this minestrone, but I’m rolling with it. I made it the other week and we both loved it more than I anticipated. I mean, it’s vegetable soup. It’s not flashy in the slightest. Still, I’m singing its praises because it’s not only healthy, warm, and wholesome, its savory flavors and thickness keeps me full and satisfied. And I made it again since then! We’ve absolutely loved it on these cold winter days, especially served in giant homemade bread bowls.

Figured you’d appreciate this recipe too!!

How to make thick and hearty minestrone soup on

Spinach for minestrone soup on

What makes it different? This minestrone soup is much heartier than what we’re used to, almost like a chili, which is why I love it so much. Not super brothy, know what I’m sayin? I’m not a huge fan of pasta (I KNOW I KNOW… WEIRD), so I use rice. The rice soaks up a lot of liquid, which helps thicken it up. I add an 8-ounce can of tomato paste, which is typically more than most minestrone soup recipes. I also throw in fresh zucchini, carrots, celery, and spinach plus lots of canned beans. Those are all pretty typical in minestrone. There’s also garlic, onion, diced tomato, and a hefty dose of seasoning. There’s so much color and texture in 1 spoonful, how can you not be satisfied?!

This soup is pretty forgiving. Play around with the veggies based on what you like. I loved big butter beans in this soup, but I want to try it with chickpeas next. Maybe instead of spinach, a little kale? Why not. Skip a can of beans and add frozen peas? Worth a shot. Maybe a cup of corn? Let’s do it.

Whichever veggies you use, I recommend sticking with the seasonings, tomato paste, and veggie broth– these all make up the flavorful tomato base of the soup.

And in addition to breaking out of my baking comfort zone this year, I’m working on breaking out of my photography comfort zone too! Here’s my attempt at falling food.

This thick and hearty minestrone soup satisfies! Full of healthy veggies and bursting with savory, comforting flavor. Recipe on

This was shot number, like, 38. Less is more when it comes to these types of photos. We were working with way too much cheese in the beginning and it looked like a big cheese dump, rather than a pretty sprinkle. 😉 I’ll keep practicing these!

This thick and hearty minestrone soup satisfies! Full of healthy veggies and bursting with savory, comforting flavor. Recipe on

Stay warm, have fun baking the bread bowls, and let me know if you enjoy this thicker style minestrone!

Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 1 cup sliced or diced carrots (1-2 large carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
  • 1 cup sliced or diced celery (2-3 stalks)
  • 1 cup sliced or diced zucchini (about 1 small)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • a bunch of Italian seasoning (I used a generous Tablespoon)*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (14 ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (14 ounce) can green beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/3 cups uncooked rice or pasta*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 4 quart (or larger) pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes as the vegetables soften up and let out some juices.
  2. Add broth, water, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, all the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then add uncooked rice or pasta. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  3. Serve soup warm in homemade bread bowls (or regular bowls, of course!) and top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.
  4. Keep leftovers in a large tupperware in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, simply pour into a pot over medium heat and cook until warm. Feel free to add more broth to the leftovers as it cooks if it is too thick-- I always do. (It thickens in the refrigerator as the veggies and rice soak up the liquid.)

Freezing: Soup freezes wonderfully! Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the day before eating, then reheat on the stove until warm.

Recipe Notes:

*If you don't have Italian seasoning, you can use any combination of Italian spices that you like. Dried basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.

*Anywhere between 5-6 cups of broth is great. I use 6. The rice or pasta soak up a lot of liquid.

*The vinegar balances out all the flavor. A few splashes of a dry-ish red wine works too!

*Play around with the beans you use. I loved the big giant butter beans, but feel free to use the more traditional cannellini beans instead. Or try chick peas!

*Use brown or white rice or any dry pasta you like best. Stick with smaller shaped pasta so it fits on your spoon. 🙂

Slow cooker directions: Prepare the soup through step 1 on the stovetop. Transfer to a slow cooker, then add everything else except for the rice/pasta and spinach. Allow to cook for 2 hours on low, then add the rice/pasta and spinach. Cook on low for 1 more hour.

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This thick and hearty minestrone soup satisfies! Full of healthy veggies and bursting with savory, comforting flavor. Recipe on


  1. Sounds so.good right now!! Honestly everyone makes minestrone differently. I add ham hocks, carrots, and red potatoes (this version comes from my husband’s side, he’s got the Sicilian Nonnas) to mine, sometimes bell pepper if I have it on hand. She says it is supposed to be healthy and thick (how else did the peasant Tuscan farmers keep the family fed for days?) Way better than the thin, dull minestrone that’s out there.

  2. Oh this looks so rich and yummy! I’m going to try it with quinoa instead of rice, so I’ll add it in with about 15-20 minutes to go since it cooks faster. I’ll report back for anyone interested in trying it with quinoa. It may need more liquid too… can’t wait to try it! 

    • You’re right, you might need a little more broth or water, but let me know how it goes!

      • Successfully made with quinoa! I used one cup, added it in with about 20 minutes to go, and added up ending another cup or so of water. Super good! 

  3. This looks delicious. I am going to make this for a work potluck, and was wondering about how much does it make cup wise?  There are at least 35 to 40 people I work with, and was trying to see if doubling this recipe would be enough. I know not everyone will try this, but it looks so amazing, they might. 

  4. You must be reading my mind! Instead of canned beans, I’m soaking dry beans ..a variety that I had in my pantry..I was going to try Hillbilly Stew, a recipe that I found in this weeks local paper. Now, I’m switching it up and trying your recipe, Sally, with a few tweaks here and there.

  5. Minestrone is one of my favorite soups!  I crave all the warm dishes during the winter months 🙂

  6. Hi Sally,
    I love your website and cookbooks! You can’t go wrong with a Sally recipe! I am 29 weeks pregnant and wanted to start prepping some freezer food to have after the baby arrives. I am using your post-baby blog post on this topic as a guide. Would this soup freeze well? What other recipes did you freeze in preparation for the birth of your daughter? Thanks!

  7. I made your Korean beef yesterday and it was so delicious! I used about 1/2 the brown sugar as I didn’t want too sweet, and it was perfect served over rice, we couldn’t eat it fast enough. Leftovers too. Definite keeper!

  8. I’m really excited for a good soup recipe – I feel as though I make the same soups over and over in this rut I get into this time of year…. Adding this to the menu for this week!! Not sure I’ll have time for the bread bowls but we’ll see….Thanks for another good recipe!

  9. It is chilly here in southern Arizona, so I will give this recipe a try. Your recipes are reliably excellent! I made your Christmas Sparkles cookies and oh my! Melt in your mouth delicious ❤

    • The perfect meal for chilly nights! And, I’m so happy you enjoyed the Christmas Sparkle cookies – one of my favorite festive recipes 🙂

  10. I love ordering minestrone soup as an appetizer – restaurant version’s are never thick or hearty enough to be a meal on their own, but yours looks like it actually could be! Can’t wait to try this out, maybe with a simple side salad? Love the pictures too, Sally. You make a blob of vegetables in a round brown bowl look not only appetizing but soo delicious!

  11. This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it! 

  12. Perfect timing! My daughter and I are sick and this looks great! It’s in the crockpot now with some variations based on what we will all eat. No beans or pasta, but added some corn. Cabbage instead of spinach and I added a little cooked chicken. It smells great and I love how versitale it is! Thanks for another great recipe.

  13. This looks amazeballs. Your presentation is fantastic! A few of the ingredients are not tummy-friendly for me, specifically onions and beans – That high FODMAP thing. What are your thoughts about either lower FODMAP alternatives or omitting them?  Thank you! 

  14. My hubby hates spinach and zucchini. I think I could increase the amount of celery and carrots to make up for the lack of zucchini, but would this turn out decent without the spinach?

    • Feel free to leave out the zucchini– and yes, you can sub in extra carrots and celery. Definitely leave out the spinach if you want to. The first time I made it, I didn’t add it. I added it the 2nd time for just an extra handful of veggies. Not necessary though.

  15. Not a fan of green beans except alton brown french green bean casserole. Do you think would be ok to just leave out green beans?

  16. I avoid minestrone because my husband has celiac and I am not a fan of gluten free pasta. I feel like it’s too thin without something. I almost dismissed this recipe for those reasons. I am so glad I didn’t. I definitely need to try this as t can be a one pot meal for my whole family. My oldest two like beans so it should be perfect. Thanks so much!

  17. This Soup is so good! Made it in the slow cooker and I added some ground turkey for some extra protein. Turned out so well! Definitely keeping it as a go to recipe 🙂

  18. I love Minestrone soup! This looks so delicious! And perfect for these chilly nights! Once again – your photos are beautiful! And I love the falling food picture!!! Your nail color is super cute too! 🙂

  19. I am headed to check out the Bread Bowl post!! I think you did wonderful with the falling cheese photo 🙂

  20. Oh Sally! your minestrone is out of this world, what an incredible recipe you have created, I too like my minestrone not to soupy, and then you go ahead and pour it into homemade bread bowl? does it get any better than this?

  21. Those bread bowls look incredible!


  22. I’m not really a soup eater at all, but this looks wonderful! I’m grossed out by watery soups, lol, so I love how thick this one looks!

  23. The soup looks INCREDIBLE, but that bread bowl has me daydreaming deep in the land of carbs. Specifically carbs soaked with delicious soup.

  24. Yum, that soup looks very hearty & delicious! Love that you have it in a bread bowl, they are my favorite! They are a must if I remember to plan ahead when I make soup.

  25. The only ingredient I’m missing is tomato paste! Can I leave this out or sub with something else? I’m thinking this would be the perfect dinner tonight! Thanks!!

  26. Made this soup yesterday. Delicious!! Used a 6oz can of tomato paste, because my grocery store only had 6 or 12 oz cans. I added whole wheat orzo as my pasta and put a full bag of baby spinach.

  27. Made this tonight. WOW! So filling, so fresh and so fast. Delicious!!

  28. Sally, I was wondering if you thought if arugula would be good in the soup instead of spinach. I love the zip to arugula but wasn’t sure how it would go in the soup. Love the recipe though!

    • If you love the taste and flavor of arugula (I do!), I would definitely throw some in instead of spinach. I think it’d be great.

  29. Made this Monday, and it was delicious!!! I added pasta this time, but think that rice would be delish for next time. And the leftovers have been great this week too!

  30. Hello Sally, can we leave out the red wine vinegar or sub it with something else? Thanks!

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