How to Make Minestrone Soup

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If all were right in the world, there would be as many recipes for minestrone—the Italian soup of simmered mixed vegetables and beans—as there have been individual pots of it cooked. That's because it's really more of a process than a fixed recipe. It's a hearty, easy, delicious meal you can make with a couple of pantry staples and whatever fresh vegetables you happen to have on hand.


Canned beans can be used in place of fresh. To use canned beans, in Step 5, drain and rinse 2 cups of canned beans and add them to the soup along with 2 quarts of homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetables stock. Increase simmering time to 30 minutes before proceeding to step 6.

Use fresh tomatoes only if ripe and in season. Otherwise tomatoes can be omitted or replaced with one (14-ounce) can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand or chopped with a knife. A Parmesan rind can be added to the soup while simmering for deeper flavor.


For the Beans (see note above):

8 ounces (225g) dried cannelini, Roman, or kidney beans
Kosher salt
1 medium onion, split in half (about 6 ounces; 175g)
1 medium carrot (about 3 ounces; 85g)
2 celery stalks (about 3 ounces; 85g)
2 medium cloves garlic
1 large sprig rosemary
2 to 3 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf

For the Soup Base:

4 ounces (115g) salt pork or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional)
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 6 ounces; 175g)
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (about 3 ounces; 85g)
2 celery stalks, finely diced (about 3 ounces; 85g)
1 tablespoon (15ml) minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons; 12g)
1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (450g)(see note above)
1 Parmesan rind (optional, see note above)

To Finish:

1 cup dried small pasta such as ditali, macaroni, or orecchiette (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g)
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 4 ounces; 115g)
1 medium summer squash, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 4 ounces; 115g)
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (about 115g)
4 ounces spinach, roughly chopped (about 4 cups loosely packed leaves; 115g)
Chopped fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, or rosemary for serving
Freshly ground black pepper


1. For the Beans: In a medium bowl, cover beans with cold water by several inches and stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Let the beans soak at least 12 hours and up to a day. Drain and rinse.

2. Combine beans, onion, carrot, celery, garlic cloves, rosemary, and parsley in a large pot and cover with water by several inches. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, topping up as necessary, until the beans are fully tender, about 45 minutes. Using tongs, discard vegetables. Drain beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer bean cooking liquid to a 2-quart measuring cup and add enough cold water to equal 2 full quarts (2 liters; 8 cups).

3. For the Soup Base: Heat pancetta (if using) and olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until pancetta has rendered fat and softened but is not browned (if omitting pancetta, heat just until the oil is shimmering). Add onions, carrot, and celery, and chopped rosemary, season with a big pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes, adding more oil if the pot appears dry or vegetables are starting to stick to the bottom.

4. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until most of their moisture has evaporated and the mixture starts to fry (the sound should change from a sputtering simmering sound to a sharper crackle as they vegetables start to fry).

5. Add the reserved bean cooking liquid, the beans, and the Parmesan rind. Let the broth simmer for at least 10 minutes.

6. Add the pasta, zucchini, squash, and green beans, and simmer until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind, if used.

7. Soup can be served immediately as-is, or you can continue simmering for up to 2 1/2 hours for a heartier texture and flavor. Alternatively, reserve half of the soup on the side, continue to simmer the other half in the pot for up to 2 1/2 hours, and stir the reserved soup back in for a soup that is hearty but still has plenty of bright vegetable flavor and texture. Stir in chopped herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
Minestrone Soup

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