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ladle of minestrone soup

Thick & Hearty Minestrone Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 58 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Italian


This hearty minestrone soup is thicker than most. Brimming with colorful vegetables, protein-rich beans, and aromatic herbs, it’s as delicious as it is satisfying. You’ll love this soup’s uniquely rich texture—every spoonful is different!


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (130g) diced yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 1 cup (120g) sliced or diced carrots (12 large carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
  • 1 cup (120g) sliced or diced celery 
  • 1 cup (130g) sliced or diced zucchini
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 67 cups (about 1.5L) vegetable or chicken broth*
  • 2 cups (480ml) water
  • 23 teaspoons red wine vinegar*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (15.5-ounce/439g) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (15.5-ounce/439g) can butter beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (15.5-ounce/439g) can green beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 (14.5-ounce/411g) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 (6-ounce/170g) can tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/3 cups uncooked rice (about 290g) or orzo pasta (240g)*
  • 3 cups (120g) fresh spinach, chopped
  • optional: grated parmesan cheese and fresh thyme, for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, 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 covered container 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/pasta 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. Special Tools (affiliate links): Large Pot or Dutch Oven (such as this Le Creuset Dutch Oven or Lodge Dutch Oven)
  3. Zucchini: You can leave this out, or use summer squash instead. I’ve also used chopped mushrooms in its place.
  4. 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.
  5. Broth: Anywhere between 6–7 cups (about 1.5L) of broth is great. I use 7, and then add a little more when I reheat leftover soup. The rice or pasta soaks up a lot of liquid.
  6. Vinegar: The vinegar balances out all the flavors. A few splashes of a dry-ish red wine works too!
  7. Kidney Bean & Butter Beans: I love this blend of beans, but you can use all kidney or all butter beans instead. Or substitute one or both for chickpeas, cannellini, borlotti, or great northern beans. Or substitute one with a drained can of corn.
  8. Green Beans: You can use chopped fresh green beans or frozen green beans instead. When I do this, I usually use around 1 and 1/2 cups. Add it when you add the other beans—they have enough time to cook and soften. No need to thaw if using frozen.
  9. 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—I usually use orzo. You can also skip the rice/pasta. The soup will be thinner.
  10. Spinach: Feel free to use chopped fresh kale instead, or leave it out. If you want to use frozen spinach, add it 10 minutes before the end of cooking instead of 5.
  11. If You Want to Add Meat: Feel free to add 1 lb. of ground chicken, turkey, or beef. Cook it with the celery/carrots in step 1. Skip 1 can of the beans, and you may want to add another 1 cup (240ml) of broth. Or add 1–2 cups pre-cooked meat, such as chopped/shredded rotisserie chicken or ham, when you stir in the spinach. Sometimes I even add thinly sliced chicken sausage.
  12. 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.