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. 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.

chopped sautéed vegetables in a pot

fresh spinach on a wood cutting board

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!

Print
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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

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.)

Notes

  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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

45 Comments

  1. Janet Bradley says:

    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!!!!!

  2. 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.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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 🙂

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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