Vegetable Minestrone with Parsley Pistou is a flavorful and healthy Italian soup that's perfect for a cozy dinner at home. Made with creamy white beans, fresh herbs and loads of healthy green vegetables, this soup is gluten free and vegan adaptable!
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup, and like all of the best Italian recipes, each cook's version is slightly different. It's the recipe I always make whenever I've been indulging a bit too much and need a good reset.
Why this recipe works
- Endlessly adaptable and super flexible.
- Utilizes canned tomatoes and cannellini beans for ease.
- Can be made vegan or vegetarian with a few simple swaps.
- Gets an extra pop of brightness and flavor with a simple, garlicky herb oil (Pistou) swirled in at the end.
- Extra healthy and gluten free since there's no pasta (but add it in if you like).
- Pancetta is a salty, unsmoked Italian bacon. You can substitute smoked American bacon or leave it out altogether for a vegan / vegetarian soup. Just add a little bit more salt, olive oil and herbs to makeup for it.
- Parmesan cheese rind - This is added to the broth to impart more flavor, but don't worry about it if you don't have one. Whenever I finish a wedge of parmesan cheese, I throw the rind in a container and freeze for instances like this.
- Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes - You can substitute crushed tomatoes.
- Vegetables - Don't skip the carrots, celery, onion, garlic or tomatoes - these make the base of the soup. But any of the other vegetables can be easily swapped out for whatever you like or have on hand.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Place a large, heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it has given up most of its fat and is just starting to crisp, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
4. Add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese rind (if using), Swiss chard, cannellini beans, zucchini and green beans.
5. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for at least 30 minutes or longer to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
6. Make the Parsley Pistou by combining the minced garlic, parsley and olive oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors meld.
7. To serve, ladle the minestrone into bowls and serve with Parsley Pistou on the side along with grated parmesan and crusty bread.
Tips for Success
- Adapt this recipe however you like. Throw in some leftover shredded chicken, the rice from last night's Chinese takeout, a diced sweet potato that's laying around, or anything else about to go bad in your fridge.
- If making vegetarian or vegan, omit the pancetta and parmesan rind and add a few more glugs of olive oil and an extra pinch of salt to make up for the flavor.
- Short on time? Skip the pistou and simply drizzle with good quality olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan instead.
- Fry a few slices of crusty bread in extra virgin olive oil until crisp, then rub them all over with a raw garlic clove for an extra delicious accompaniment.
Pistou is essentially the French equivalent of Italian pesto, but unlike pesto it doesn't contain any nuts or cheese. It's really just a simple, garlicky herby oil used as a condiment. Pistou, like pesto, is traditionally made with basil, but I've swapped in parsley here. You can absolutely use basil, but I opted for parsley because it's so much more prevalent in winter, which is when I typically make minestrone.
Traditionally, yes, but I usually prefer to leave it out to make the recipe extra healthy and gluten free. However, you can add some if you like. If using, boil it separately and then add it right before serving to make sure it doesn't absorb all of the broth and become mushy.
Yes! This soup freezes beautifully and can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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