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Minestrone is a thick vegetable/bean soup, usually with the addition of pasta. It has a long history dating back to pre-Roman days, and it used to be made primarily with leftovers by poor families looking to stretch their food resources. It’s considered a part of la cucina povera, or poor kitchen. It evolved over the years, as any good recipe does, reflecting the economies and eating habits of the people making it, so I thought it fitting that I add quinoa (instead of pasta) and kale to this classic soup.
Don’t let all the ingredients scare you. All you’re really doing is chopping the veggies into a medium dice (about the size of popped corn) and putting everything in a big pot. It’s fast, easy and ready to eat in about 40 minutes without much fuss from you, and it’s good for more than one meal. Make a really big pot and freeze what you don’t use in quart containers. They last for months and will be a lifesaver when you can’t or don’t want to cook.
In celebration of this time of harvest, when fresh local vegetables are available almost everywhere, go explore the farmer’s markets, stop at farm stands, or just grab your favorite fresh veggies wherever you can, and make a minestrone. Express yourself!
- 1 sweet onion – medium diced
- 2 celery stalks – medium diced
- 3 carrots – medium diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
- 2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces
- 1 bell pepper – medium diced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 28-ounce cans of water
- 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups kale – stems removed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with parmesan to taste
- Garnish with slivered basil or finely chopped rosemary
Place a large stockpot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.
Add the zucchini, bell peppers and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.
Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.
Grate in the parmesan, add the basil and serve. (or do this for individual servings).
I made this last week. I can’t believe how good it is! I’m making it again this week. I used rotel tomatoes with green chilies to make it spicier. Thank you!
Karela, What a great idea to add spicy tomatoes. I have to keep it mild because my daughter hates spicy but I’m right with you that spicy is even better. So glad you made this and loved it.
How many calories in a cup?
Hi Lisa, That’s hard to say. I don’t count calories. Doing so makes everything fattening because it comes from a fear of gaining weight! Either way let’s just say a cup of this soup is very low in calories while still filling and satisfying…not to mention delicious! What more can we ask for in a cup of anything! If you make it, I know you’ll enjoy it.
It was amazing! I’m making another pot of this and will bring it to a friend who’s having surgery. Perfect comfort food that will promote healing too! Yum…
This is music to my ears Suzanne. And the soup is healing in more ways than one: the physical ingredients and the energetic ones that come from you. Powerful healing at work.
I am new to your site but saw the minestrone soup and said I need that! Do you post the Nutrition facts???
Hi Charlotte, Welcome. I’m so glad to have you here. I’m not a nutritionist so I don’t have nutritional information for the recipes other than general info. I have however teamed up with a nutritionist and we’re working on a system to provide you with that. Thanks so much for your comment.
I made the soup today and it is delicious. I may not be looking in the right place but do you have the nutritional information per serving for this recipe?
Linda, Sorry I don’t have the nutritional info. I’m afraid I always plan my recipes by instinct and the use of fresh ingredients that I know are healthy. But I can see that this would be helpful so I’m looking into a nutritional calculator. And since I’m not a nutritionalist I have also teamed up with a very good one. So I hope to have this information soon. So glad you like the soup and thank you for your comment.
Absolutely amazing minestrone! I’ve been making hearty soups for many years and this one is definitely my family’s new favorite! Nutritious, tasty, filling and healthy. Great recipe
Oh Lisa, you just made my day! Delighted that your family loves it. I couldn’t ask for a better reaction to this recipe. Thank you.
while making this I thought, no way is this going to be good, where is all the seasoning. boy was I wrong. This was delish! I had to make myself not go back for 3rds. For those of you on Weight Watchers…I used the recipe creator and came to 4 points for 1 cup….the pot made 14 one cup servings.
Amazing chefsilvia, I cannot wait to make more of your recipes 🙂
Kelly, Thank you so much for your comment. You have no idea how much this means to me! Keep on cooking!
Thank you for this minestrone instructions. Can you suggest substitute for green beans and green bell pepper? Food sensitive issue.
Hi Sandra, You can use a red, yellow or orange bell pepper or leave it out entirely. Same goes for the green beans. You can simply leave it out or add a vegetable that you like…baby peas or asparagus for instance. Minestrone really can be almost any combination of vegetables and a minestrone I make in October for instance will most likely be different than one I make in March. There’re different vegetables prevalent during those times so I use what’s seasonal. The thing I love to remind people is that a recipe is simply a guide. It’s really there to guide and inspire you to make the recipe your own. That’s the fun part. Hope this helps Sandra and thank you for your question.
What is quinoa ?
Hi Tony, Quinoa is a grain from South America. It has a mild, neutral taste and can be added to soups, salads or eaten as a cereal. It is know for it’s high nutritional value and is considered a superfood. It’s cooked like rice. I love to substitute for pasta in soups because it retains it’s texture without becoming bloated like pasta. To find out more…http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142#descr
This is divine!!!! I made this recipe last year I can’t tell you how many times and was so happy when I found it again. Because I lost my paper I wrote it on.
I think I missed your comment Stacy. So glad you found this recipe again!! And thanks for reporting your success with this back here…yeah!!! Lots more to come so stay tuned!
I love this recipe. I make it frequently and freeze it in 12oz containers to take it for lunch at work. I add generous helpings of the veggies and usually get 10-11 containers. I am going to try your Lentil soup too. Looking for recipes like this that I can make and freeze to take for healthy lunches.
So glad you found recipes that are helpful Karin. Thank you for your comment.
I just came across this, but I think I’ll be visiting your recipes more often. I want to eat better but not lose tasteful foods.
Yeah Rose! Who say’s healthy can’t also be delicious!
When you add the quinoa and cover the soup, do you also turn off the heat for the 15 minutes? or leave it on? I wasn’t clear about that.
Hi Joyce. Good question. I’ve done it both ways. When you keep it covered the quinoa opens up a bit quicker…so that really is the key as to when it’s done.