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Italian Minestrone Soup

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Eat your vegetables.

Soup should be enjoyed all year long. And there’s nothing better in summer than this Italian minestrone soup recipe. With zucchini, ripe tomatoes, onion, and garlic, this accidentally vegan summer soup makes a perfect laid-back summer meal. 

bowl of italian minestrone soup recipe

Marvelous Minestrone Soup

Summer soups do not get enough love. Sure, there is gazpacho or even some retro Vichyssoise if you are feeling French — or in need of some chilled comfort food. But I am not talking about cold soup. I am talking about a nice hot soup in summer that still feels like summer. In other words, I am talking about a good summer vegetable Italian minestrone recipe.

minestrone ingredients zucchini onion tomato beans garlic

Making an Authentic Italian Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is an Italian peasant soup — often accidentally vegan, at that — made from whatever vegetables are around, stirred with a water broth into a hearty bowlful of soup. Minestrone soup is inherently seasonal, using what’s fresh (and therefore, often least expensive) to its advantage.

Minestrone’s adaptability makes it a staple in my house. I use Alice Waters’s minestrone recipe from The Art of Simple Food as a guide.

In winter, I use winter squash and green beans. In spring, peas and asparagus. But late summer is my favorite time of year to make minestrone. This late summer minestrone soup recipe uses the very best summer vegetables: zucchini or yellow squash, juicy red tomatoes, plus green beans, garlic, carrots, and onion.

This is one of the easiest, and most flexible, soups around. Feel free to adapt this vegan minestrone soup to whatever vegetables you have on hand or like. Serve simply with crusty bread and some good grated pecorino-Romano or parmesan cheese as a nourishing and delicious lunch or dinner. Top with fresh basil for an added summer touch.

diced zucchini and tomatoes on wooden board for minestrone

Vegan Minestrone Soup: Recipe Notes

Consider this classic minestrone soup recipe a guide. The point is to make this vegetable soup bulky with vegetables and beans. But which vegetables? That’s adaptable.

    • Summer vegetables like yellow summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans are natural choices.
    • But if you are looking to use up a bag of frozen peas or carrots, for example? Go for it. A handful of little potatoes lurking in the crisper drawer? In they go.
    • Top with grated parmesan cheese or pecorino-Romano, basil, red pepper flakes, or all of the above.

If you want to add a little more heft or protein, you could also add some pulled chicken, kidney beans or cannellini beans. A small pasta like ditalini or orzo would be good, too. White rice would work well, too.

bowl of tomato zucchini Italian minestrone soup

If you like authentic Italian minestrone soup recipe, you’ll also like:

Italian minestrone soup recipe

Italian Minestrone Soup

A seasonal, vegan Italian minestrone soup recipe, full of summer vegetables, adapted from Alice Waters.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: diner, lunch, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords:: italian, minestrone, soup, tomato, vegan, zucchini
Servings: 6 to 8 people
Print

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 13-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 large handfuls spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • grated pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to garnish

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the carrots soften slightly, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the water, green beans, cannellini beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the spinach; it will wilt in the liquid. Taste for seasoning. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

Notes

This vegan minestrone soup recipe can also be made with chicken broth for an added dimension of flavor. That said, the herbs and vegetables will make a wonderful broth all on its own, so feel free to keep it simple. 

13 comments

  • 5 stars
    I was worried because it calls for water instead of broth that this would be a little bland, but this was excellent! Lots of good vegetables. I think you could add some shredded chicken if you wanted some protein/aren’t vegetarian.

  • 5 stars
    I tried to use the pin symbol to save this recipe in addition to several others included in this week’s collection and every attempt fails. Keeps saying image is broken. Can you please fix this issue? I’ve pinned many of yours previously without a problem, so am hoping this can be remedied. Thanks!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Andi! Thank you so much for this note and for bringing this to my attention. I will be working on this ASAP with my tech guy. Apologies for the inconvenience.

  • Shannon

    5 stars
    I was excited for the idea of all our fresh seasonal vegetables! This is a great and very versatile recipe! I added tomato paste, oregano and a cup of vegetable stock. It was bright, fresh and delicious. I will be making this often with what is in season. I also might try it with a small pasta, added in at the end. Thank you!

  • 5 stars
    This soup is delicious. My family wasn’t too happy when I told them soup was for dinner (in summer to boot) but everyone loved it. It tasted even better the next day. I did add a tablespoon of vegetable base paste but kept everything else the same. Thank you!

    • Unpeeled

      Haha! Yes, the summer soup thing can definitely throw people off. But good for you for persevering. Even though it’s a hot dish, I find it a great way to enjoy that good summer produce.

  • 5 stars
    This is such a simple, healthy, satisfying recipe. I made a big batch for lunches this past week, and I’m going to do so again this coming week – this time with some fennel and fresh corn. Delicious!

    • Unpeeled

      Thanks and I’m so glad it worked out! The fennel and corn sound like such a delicious summer addition!

  • 5 stars
    A great soup that was very easy to make. Will make again.

  • 5 stars
    I love The Art of Simple Food! I had not made this recipe, but am glad I made this because it tasted very healthy and good, and I like how full of vegetables it is.

  • Becca B.

    5 stars
    Very tasty. I used chicken broth instead of water, and substituted yellow squash for zucchini.

  • Emma L.

    5 stars
    My husband and I really enjoyed this soup. It did not taste vegan!! The broth was so flavorful.

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