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!
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!
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. Just as we do when making this vegetable pot pie, play around with the vegetables you use based on what you like. I loved big butter beans in this soup and 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 vegetables you use, I recommend sticking with the seasonings, tomato paste, and vegetable broth– these all make up the flavorful tomato base of the soup.
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.
Serve in bread bowls or alongside soft dinner rolls, artisan bread, brown butter sage dinner rolls, homemade breadsticks, or olive bread. For a deliciously cheesy accompaniment, you can even serve with pizza pull apart rolls!Print
Thick and Hearty Minestrone Soup
- 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 (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
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve soup warm in homemade bread bowls (or regular bowls, of course!) and top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Large pot or dutch oven
- 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.
- Broth: Anywhere between 5-6 cups of broth is great. I use 6. The rice or pasta soak up a lot of liquid.
- Vinegar: The vinegar balances out all the flavor. A few splashes of a dry-ish red wine works too!
- 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!
- 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. 🙂
- Slow Cooker Instructions: Prepare the soup through step 1 on the stovetop. Transfer to a slow cooker (affiliate link), 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.
Keywords: minestrone soup
Reader Comments & Reviews
awesome recipe!!! Easy and tasty soup. I used orzo instead of rice or traditional pasta and worked really well. :))))
This minestrone soup was Just what I was looking for!!!! The broth is so rich and everything I wanted in a minestrone soup. The only thing I did different was made the broth with better than bullion, but I used a mixture of beef and chicken. I also added in one potato. Soo good saving this one for sure !!
Excellent recipe! We eat lots of soup, in the winter, and this recipe did not disappoint. This is my first time making one of your recipes that didn’t involve baking…I had no idea what I’d been missing.
My husband and I made this together. IT IS DELICIOUS. so easy to make, so fun to eat. Thank you for another great recipe.
I’ve never been successful at soup! This one worked for me! Yummy.
Just made this recipe tonight! Super easy. I made GF pasta & ditalini as we have a person who is GF, so didn’t put the pasta into the soup, but rather let people add what they wanted to their bowls. We also had people eat it without any pasta. Added Italian sausage, which I sauteed first. SO GOOD! EXCELLENT all around. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
I used two small zucchinis, and I had a can of “Mexican corn” (corn with red and green peppers), so I tossed that in, too. And I used mini shell pasta instead of rice. It was phenomenal. Plenty left to go in the freezer, and I’ll definitely be making this again. Perfect winter soup!
Another great recipe from Sally!
I altered mine slightly by adding in ground sausage, and all I had on hand was instant rice, so I cooked the rice separately and then added it in at the end. The rice still soaks up a lot of the liquid.
By the way, she’s not kidding when this makes a TON! It filled my 8 quart Dutch oven.
Amazing! I added brown rice. A beautiful lunch on a cold winter day!
Love this soup. I added in a pound of sweet Italian sausage and a pound of hot Italian sausage to make it a bit heartier. Amazing!
Made the recipe took it to bible study. Everyone loved it. A friend took some to her husband. The next week she wanted the recipe and all changes I made. I put zucchini and yellow squash. I didn’t add water I used chicken and vegetable broth. I used cannellini beans and kidney beans.
We use this recipe all the time starting in October and lasting through the earliest parts of Spring. It’s one of our favorites! I will say that we use rice because we are entirely gluten and corn free. I reduce the amount of rice a bit because it soaks up so much of the juice both the night of and when reheating the leftovers. We use the recommended amount of broth/water but only about 3/4 of rice.
We also sometimes add ground beef or turkey because my hubby is big meat eater, but we’ve done it vegetarian as well.
I have wanted a good minestrone for a long time. This is it. I cooked up some spinach pasta to have with it.
I made this soup this morning, and it is outstanding!!! I did have a few changes based out items on hand. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of a can of French green beans and only had a 28 ounce can of Marzano chopped tomatoes. Instead of rice I used acini di Pepe. The result, a thick and delicious minestrone that is bursting with flavor and freshness! I wish I could give it ten stars!
Made this today just as the recipe called for but I added dumplings. It is delicious! Will make again and again. Yummy…
Sally, thanks so much for this absolutely delicious soup. It’s perfect, has everything a great minestrone soup should have. It’s my new favorite! My go to minestrone ……So fresh and tasty… family LOVES it!
My family of boys are definitely meat eaters . What meat would you suggest adding to the minestrone to make it more hearty for these males in my house ?
Hi Traci, This is already a very hearty soup! But you can certainly add shredded chicken or even replace some of the beans with the ground meat of your choice. It’s very versatile and easy to adapt to your taste!
As an Italian descendant, you can’t beat pork in tomato sauce! Pork’s sweetness compliments tomato’s acidity and savouriness well. To fit the time frame, I would use pork mince/ground pork that isn’t lean, because in my house the fat from the meat adds tons of flavour! Second best option is beef mince or pork sausages taken out of the casings (but they are much fattier than mince).
Fantastic. Red wine vinegar added the je ne sais quoi. (Thanks to autocorrect that took 20 minutes to type LOL. ) I used beef Better Than Bouillon because that’s what I had.
Lol!! Next time try speak text… It works for me when I’m trying to spell things like je ne sais quoi! ( <—- I did it right there!)
This will be on my table for Christmas Day! We usually nibble on snacks and treats all day for Christmas and then prefer a lighter/healthier dinner than the traditional Christmas dinner fare. So it’ll be this soup, a big salad and garlic- cheese bread for dinner. Can’t wait!
Came out great! Not really zucchini season so we didn’t add that. Used 1 quart of vegetable stock and 2 cups water. Used ditalini for the pasta. The leftovers definitely thicken up so we’ve added water when reheating. Several dinners and lunches and shared some with our neighbor who’s added some leftover beef into hers. All good!
I made this soup w/the pasta…DELICIOUS!!! New family favorite!
I added black beans to this, because I made the pumpkin chili and had some left over and didn’t want to waste any; they make a yummy addition!
I normally don’t like minestrone and I am not a fan of green beans at all, but I love this recipe!
I used mostly vegetable broth and 1 cup of water.
This is rich with flavors and very stew-like. My family loves it!
Perfect. We liked the flavor of this minestrone. It is thick but we liked it with ditalini pasta. Definitely a recipe we will make again.
This makes a lot of soup! My partner asked me, if I was opening a restaurant. I would say, closer to 16 servings. Usually I am not a huge fan of minestrone soup, but my family likes it. I actually enjoyed this soup. It was yummy and great for an overcast day.
I didn’t add the pasta or rice because I was going to freeze some. Also I used homemade broth and fresh basil and oregano instead of italian herbs.
Just made this with kale, along with leeks, potatoes and a little red bell pepper because I had those on hand with the other ingredients. Very stick-to-your-ribs and homey, but healthy. The vinegar and tomato paste really make this recipe stand out among minestrones. Another winner, Sally!
Hi! I love your recipes, I mainly use your baking ones. I tried this soup and it tastes great but it was very thick. I don’t mind it, but it wasn’t a soup. I think I followed the recipe so I’m not sure what went wrong.
I did use vegetable broth with no added salt if that would change anything. I made it with rice but I plan to make it again with pasta. Would adding more broth or water make it more soupy? Or would that take away from the flavor? I’m not looking for thin soup, I still like the heartyness but mine was more like a chili.
Hi Dani! If you use pasta, the soup will likely be a thinner consistency than with rice. If you try it again with rice, you can add more broth to reach your desired consistency. Thanks so much for giving this soup a try – it’s a favorite 🙂
I have Yet to make the soup but I must say that just having read the entire post AND having taken time to look at all the photos… I completely expect it to be thick, especially serving it and bread bowls. Anything served in a bread bowl would not have a lot of broth.
I think Sally was extremely clear and concise on this point.( multiple times)☺️
Can’t wait to make this recipe, cause I know it will be amazing. The reason for my comment is to let you know how much I truly appreciate you posting the notes within the recipe itself.
I find them very important to the recipes and love the other suggestions you give. On other sites I have to end up coming and. pasting into a word document just to have all the information. Again THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!! GREAT JOB!!!!!