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!

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

107 Comments

  1. My husband and I eat this soup EVERY DAY for lunch with a sprinkle of cheese on top (have for months now). Honestly, we LOVE this soup and never tire of it! I make several batches at once and freeze them in individual serving sizes. The only change we made was to add 1 lb. of browned turkey sausage, eliminate the pasta, and reduce the amount of water to about half. Instead of pasta, I prepare a box of barley, spoon it into a cupcake tin (about 1/3 cup in each) and freeze it. After it freezes, the barley “cupcakes” are removed from the tin and placed in a large Ziploc bag. I simply take one from the freezer and zap it in the microwave in my husband’s soup bowl for 60 seconds, then pour his serving of soup on top and heat it all together. I prefer to have mine without. Perfect for busy homesteaders! When guests are here for lunch, they typically ask for the recipe. Thanks for sharing, Sally!

  2. I made this in the crock pot with the artisan bread. Fabulous smells all throughout the house! My husband loved the flavors, but our rice came out still hard and uncooked. I followed the suggestion of two hours on low without rice, one hour on low with rice and then I let it simmer another hour until I got off work. I did use basmati rice since that was all I had and I wasn’t sure if it needed instant rice or not. Does the type of rice make a difference? This stuff didn’t soak up anything. Do you know what went wrong? (BTW, my first ever bread was a success! Love love love your recipe!)

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ren, Thank you so much for trying our recipes. It’s always so satisfying when your first real loaf of bread turns out! Basmati rice can take longer to cook than regular white or brown rice, so it sounds like it just needed more time in the pot to cook through properly. If you ever try the recipe again, see if you can add the basmati rice an hour earlier in the process. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 1 hour, add the rice, cook for 1 hour, add the spinach, cook for 1 more hour.

  3. 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!!!!!

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