Minestrone is an Italian soup which usually consists of seasonal vegetables and sometimes the addition of pasta, rice, and/or beef. This is one of my favorite soups. It’s hearty, healthy and the best comfort food on a cold night. It’s a great one-dish nutritious meal and quite simple to make. Depending on the ingredients you choose it can be made in 30 minutes. The best thing about minestrone is that there is no “set” recipe – you can be as creative as you like.
About this recipe
My minestrone recipe changes all the time depending on the ingredients I have at home. My “base” usually consists of onions, carrots, celery, white beans, and beef. I like to make my minestrone nutritious by combining seasonal vegetables of different colors and always adding beef for protein. It is how my grandmother and my mother have always made it, and this recipe always reminds me of their soup, so I stay with their “base” and change vegetables once in a while. My mother usually adds pasta to her minestrone, which sometimes I do too. I like to use dried beans and cook the soup for a while when I have time; however, most often than not I use organic canned white beans if I want to make this soup quickly (read the label and make sure you use canned beans with no preservatives -only water and salt should be added to canned food). I also add spinach and sometimes kale (at the end) for an extra boost of color and nutrition.
Feel free to modify this recipe as you please. If you would like to make the recipe vegetarian, just omit the beef. Be mindful that the more vegetables you add, you may need to adjust the quantity of water and broth (or bouillon). Have fun experimenting with different ingredients and enjoy!
Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep time: approx 10 min
Cook time: approx 30-40 min
- 1 lb (1/2 kg) beef/red meat of your choice, cubed
- 2 TBL olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped (wash well beforehand)
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed (or use dried beans – see note below)
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 TBL tomato paste
- 3 cups of vegetable broth (or 2 bouillon cubes with 3 cups of water)
- Water (enough to cover vegetables for a lighter soup, or add more broth)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary and thyme (optional)
- Spinach, chopped (as much as you please)
Note: If using dried beans, soak them overnight and follow instructions on package for cooking them. Soup may take 1- 2 hrs to cook depending on the dried beans used.
- Add the olive oil and the cubed pieces of beef to a pot on medium-high heat. Cook through until the beef turns golden brown, approx 5-8 minutes. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
- Note: Use very little salt here just to season the beef; you will be adding broth/bouillon later and adjusting the salt.
- Lower heat to medium and add onions, celery, and carrots and leek and stir constantly (if the pot browned while cooking the beef, scrape the bottom of the pot while stirring the vegetables to release extra flavor), approx 5 minutes.
- Once onions have started becoming translucent, add the zucchini, potato, beans, tomato and the tomato paste to the pot.
- Immediately add the vegetable broth (or the water and bouillon mixture). Depending on the size of the pot, you may need extra water (or broth) to cover the vegetables; if so, adjust seasoning accordingly. Add salt and pepper to taste. If adding a fresh sprig of rosemary and thyme, you can add them at this time.
- You can increase the temperature to medium-high and let the soup come to a boil. Immediately, lower heat to simmer and cook with the pot covered (letting a little steam escape from one side) for another 20-30 minutes (until the potato is cooked through and soft). Stir once in a while. You can cook the soup longer for more flavor if you prefer.
- Before serving, add the chopped spinach to the pot of soup and stir.
- Note: Adding the spinach at the end allows it to retain its dark green color and not wilt during cooking.
Serve this soup with a few slices of rustic bread and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan cheese. I hope you enjoy it!