Thick and Hearty Minestrone Soup

This hearty minestrone soup is thicker than most minestrone soup recipes. It’s filled with delicious colorful vegetables, plenty of spices, and has a unique rich texture. You’ll make this minestrone soup recipe again and again!

ladle of minestrone soup

I’m not really sure if I should call this minestrone soup, 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 this minestrone soup recipe on cold winter days, especially served in giant homemade bread bowls. Figured you’d appreciate this recipe too!

overhead image of a pot of minestrone soup

Minestrone soup in a bread bowl on a wood plate

What Makes This Minestrone Soup the Best?

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 saying? 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.

chopped sautéed vegetables in a pot

fresh spinach on a wood cutting board

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 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!

Minestrone soup in a bread bowl

How to Freeze Minestrone Soup

This thick and hearty minestrone soup freezes wonderfully! Freeze in a large freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the day before eating, then reheat on the stove until warm.

How to Make Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

If you want the minestrone soup to cook all day, here are the slow cooker directions. I also pasted these in the recipe below. 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.

Minestrone soup in a bread bowl on a wood plate

Serve in bread bowls or alongside my favorite soft dinner rolls!

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ladle of minestrone soup

Thick and Hearty Minestrone Soup

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian


This hearty minestrone soup is thicker than most soup recipes. It’s filled with delicious colorful vegetables, plenty of spices, and a unique rich texture. You’ll make this minestrone soup recipe again and again!


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 1 cup sliced or diced carrots (12 large carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
  • 1 cup sliced or diced celery (23 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
  • 56 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
  • 2 cups water
  • 23 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.)


  1. Make Ahead Instructions – 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.
  2. Italian Seasoning: If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can use any combination of Italian spices that you like. Dried basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.
  3. Broth: Anywhere between 5-6 cups of broth is great. I use 6. The rice or pasta soak up a lot of liquid.
  4. Vinegar: The vinegar balances out all the flavor. A few splashes of a dry-ish red wine works too!
  5. Beans: 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!
  6. Rice / Pasta: Use brown or white rice or any dry pasta you like best. Stick with smaller shaped pasta so it fits on your spoon. 🙂
  7. Slow Cooker Instructions: 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.

Bread bowls on cooling rack

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


  1. Hi Sally! I took this recipe and combined it with one we have from my mother-in-law from years ago (she has since passed away). She called for pretty much the same ingredients except tomato sauce in lieu of paste, no red wine vinegar, no green beans and no butter beans, but she had salt pork in her recipe. So what I did was brown the salt pork, drain the fat, add in the rest of your ingredients and used tomato juice instead of either sauce or paste. It turned out soooo good! My husband was really happy with the soup and we had cold winds today so it was the perfect time for soup and homemade bread! (Didn’t make your bread bowls as my husband doesn’t like those, but we had homemade bread just the same.) We used pasta in the soup, too. We were really happy with the soup and so glad you shared the recipe!!

    1. Your variation sounds fantastic! My husband would love the salt pork in it. I’d love to try it that way sometime. Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. I use Italian sausage in my Minestrone. I cook the dittalini or small shells separately in beef broth. My soup is thick due to the sausage, beans, veggies & fresh parmesan. I like my pasta to remain al dente, which is why I don’t add it to the soup. I simply place pasta in serving bowls, cover with the hot soup & top with freshly shredded Parmesan, Assiago & Romano. Bon App!

  2. Love minestrone soup so much and will definitely be giving this a try…but I am SUPER excited to try your bread bowl recipe! You make it seem so “doable” — I’m going to give it shot over the weekend! Thank you Sally!

    1. They really are much easier than you think!! Let me know how they turn out 🙂

  3. I made this last weekend and it was delicious! I used fire roasted tomatoes because that’s what I had on hand, and it gave it a really good flavor with a little heat. The leftovers made for great, quick weekday lunches too. This is a keeper! 

  4. Super keen to make this. Just wondering does the bread go soggy once you add the soup?

    1. Not really. Unless you are a super slow soup eater!

  5. This looks amazing! Any tips on adjusting for an Instant Pot?

    1. Hi Dara! I don’t have an instant pot, so I’m not the best person to ask. Let me know if you try anything! I’m thinking of getting one. 🙂

  6. Made this soup tonight – delicious!!

  7. Very flavorful. I didn’t have butter beans and substituted chickpeas. Worked nicely. I have made many of your recipes and not one has been a disappointment.

  8. I made this soup tonight. It was my first attempt at minestrone. It came out soooo good! It’s almost like a stew. You were right, the pasta does soak up a lot of the broth, but I don’t mind it. I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

  9. Loved this hearty, full of goodness soup! Perfect for a cold winter day!

  10. I was wondering if you know or have any salsa recipe. If you cook beans what do you pair it up with? Do you know a recipe of beans sauce or something like that?
    In addition, you should make a blogpost describing the importance of eggs or baking powder and its purpose. I am a beginner in cooking and in baking so I would like to learn some things. I like cooking and baking but I am not very experienced.
    I remember learning in Middle and High School why eggs are essential in baking and soda etc…
    Do you have a measuring conversion chart that you use? I would greatly appreciate if you share it with me.

    1. I generally focus on sweets/desserts but I do have one salsa that I make often:
      I usually explain the importance of each ingredient in each blog post, however I do have a Baking Basics section on the blog for more in-depth information on questions that come up a lot (there in one on baking soda vs. powder):

  11. We’ve made this countless times this year. It’s my husband’s favorite soup and it’s all really great flavor. Thanks Sally!

  12. Lauren Rose Smith says:

    I made this soup last week and have been enjoying the leftovers for lunch- it is so tasty!! Super easy to make and a great way to eat some extra vegetables. I’ll definitely be making this one again!

  13. Made this recipe today and it was fantastic!! And I currently have your crusty cranberry nut bread in the oven 🙂 Thank you for all these great recipes! Also I love all of the Friends references in your blog <3

  14. Elizabeth Hayes says:

    This soup is delicious! One of the easier minestrone recipes I’ve made. I followed the recipe to a T and I will make one revision next time. I used pasta and not rice, and the amount was WAY too much! I ended up with what looked like a pot of pasta with some veggies in it 🙁 It also took away some of the flavor as I had tried it before I added the pasta. I will probably halve the amount next time. I absolutely love making your recipes because there really is no questioning if they will be good or not. They always are, so I find myself turning to your site again and again. Thanks for the yummy recipe!!

  15. Hi Sally!! This looks amazing. Do you know how many cups this is per the 8 servings??? Making for a crowd and thing people may want seconds!! 🙂

    1. I’m sorry Kayla, I don’t have an exact measurement per serving. It is 8 fairly generous size bowls!

  16. Sally, Sally, Sally! You’ve outdone yourself with this recipe. My ENTIRE family requests it at least once a week. The meat eaters love it, the Pescatarian/organic/health nut loves it, the “pickiest child in the world winner” loves it, too. Now… the only thing I did differently was I added more broth and cooked the pasta separately (and left that in a different container). The broth is just lovely. So lovely that my youngest pours the broth off the top, heats it and adds just the pasta. (I told you she is picky). Thank you so much and I have given this recipe to two friends already and they adore it as well.

  17. Marci Simmons says:

    What do you think about substituting quinoa or farro for the rice/pasta?

    1. Quinoa definitely works, but it soaks up a lot of the liquid in the soup. Feel free to add extra broth.

  18. Why do you drain and rinse the kidney beans. For chili and other recipes I have always dumped beans and juice in together.

    1. Feel free to skip the draining if you’d like, but I would reduce the added broth if doing so.

  19. I’m allergic to red wine, is there an alternate to it??

    1. Hi Ashley! You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar if you aren’t able to use red wine vinegar or red wine.

  20. You might consider a couple of things when making this soup. Try using pancetta (Italian unsmoked bacon) to saute the mire poi in. Then when all the ingredients are added at the end and you are simmering the soup, add a couple of pieces of parmesan cheese rinds and let it simmer. The added flavor is unbelievable and authentic. Just my $0.02. :-b

  21. Another great recipe Sally, thank you!

  22. Christy Stanford says:

    Made this for the first time tonight and I will absolutely be making it again. This soup was amazing!!!

  23. Love love love this soup!! I have made it a dozen times now and it has never disappointed. Easy, forgiving with whatever veggies I have on hand and filling for a perfect lunch or dinner for everyone in the family. Used ditalini pasta which is perfect for this recipe. My favorite!

  24. Really delicious soup! I was worried that I had bought the wrong can (tomato paste vs sauce) because I can only find 6 oz tomato paste cans. I supplemented two tablespoons from another can to make it to the 8 oz in the recipe. It worked out! I also used diced tomatoes with basil and oregano and that was really good too! Thanks for the recipe! I’ll be making this again!

  25. It snowed yesterday so I made this and had it for lunch- with your Artisan Bread and chocolate fudge cakes for two for dessert. Thank you for delicious, easy recipes.
    BTW, I ate both cakes- I had to shovel a lot of snow after lunch (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)!

  26. Christy Stanford says:

    After a cold afternoon of sitting out on the playground so my son could play with other kids, I’ve got this heating up on the stove. Thanks for a fabulous recipe!

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