This vegan minestrone soup recipe is easy and healthy with a plethora of veggies, pasta and hearty beans. The addition of a sun dried tomato and basil pesto (with a secret "cheesy" ingredient) adds an umami rich layer to the broth.
Is minestrone soup vegan?
I’m answering this question for people who are new to veganism. If you’re at a restaurant, a veggie-packed soup seems like a safe bet since minestrone soup usually does not have chunks of meat in it.
However, the stock called for in most recipes and probably used in most restaurants is chicken stock. If you’re at a restaurant you’d have to ask them specifically about what kind of stock they use.
It is also common to add the rind of Parmesan cheese to the soup base for flavour but Parmesan cheese is made with enzymes from a goat or calf’s stomach, making it unsuitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
Minestrone soup with pesto
In the recipe that follows you’ll see that I use white miso paste in my sun dried tomato pesto, which is then stirred into the soup.
The sun dried tomatoes are also little umami bombs so the addition of the red pesto made with miso paste add a great depth of flavour to the broth of this vegan minestrone soup!
What veg goes in minestrone soup?
The great thing about minestrone soup is that you can make it any time of the year with whichever vegetables are in season.
What you can’t miss no matter the season is the mirepoix of onion, carrots and celery which forms the backbone of every minestrone soup!
After that it’s up to you! Some common additions are zucchini, green beans, spinach, tomato and potato.
You could also change it up with sweet potato, butternut squash, summer squash, kale or chard, cabbage, peas, or anything else, really.
How to make vegan minestrone soup
Whichever veggies you choose, what you’ll want to do is add them to the pot in stages so that they all come out perfectly cooked in the end.
Start with the mirepoix. Sautee the mix of minced onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until tender. This adds extra flavour to the broth.
Then add the denser vegetables that need a bit more time such as potato and winter squash and sautee them for a few minutes.
Once those begin to soften, add the tender vegetables like zucchini and summer squash and give them a couple minutes.
Now add your tomato. Usually this takes the form of some kind of canned tomato product. You can use diced tomatoes or whole.
I like to use whole because I like my tomatoes particularly chunky. I just break them up with my spoon until they’re bite-sized.
Now pour in your stock and bring to a simmer.
For this recipe I added a red pesto of sun dried tomatoes and basil to be served on the side to stir into each bowl to taste. I whipped this up while the soup was simmering as well as boiling the pasta in a separate pot (more on that below).
Once these veggies have simmered until tender, stir in quick cooking veggies like green beans, peas and leafy greens and give them a couple minutes.
Since canned beans are already cooked, they also go in at the end just to reheat.
Which beans for minestrone soup?
What I learned here is that in the north of Italy, minestrone (as well as pasta e fagioli) is normally made with borlotti beans and in Tuscany it’s made with cannellini.
I don’t know who decided to add red kidney beans to minestrone but that’s the bean I always think about when I think about minestrone so that’s what I use, lol!
Feel free to use whichever bean you like, or even a combination of different beans, I don’t think it matters too much unless you’re looking for Italian authenticity!
Does minestrone soup have pasta in it?
We usually associate minestrone soup with some type of small pasta like ditalini or tubattini in it. Some people even use a small macaroni.
The pasta is optional, in fact. Personally, I like to add pasta because it makes it a more hearty soup.
What differs in my recipe is that I prefer to cook the pasta in a separate pot rather than directly in the soup.
The reason why I do this is because if you have any leftovers, the pasta will suck up all the stock while it’s in the fridge and you’ll end up with soggy noodles and vegetables the next day.
It’s better to store the pasta separate from the soup and add it together when you’re ready to serve it.
Can you freeze minestrone soup?
This is another reason why it’s better to cook the pasta separately from the rest of the soup.
I don’t recommend freezing soup with pasta in it because the pasta will become mushy when you reheat it.
If you plan to freeze all or a portion of this soup, only cook enough pasta for however much soup you’re going to eat right away.
Freeze the vegetable soup and cook fresh pasta when you reheat it another day.
Furthermore, since I mentioned previously that this soup is super adaptable to whatever seasonal vegetables you have on hand, be aware that some vegetables can overcook during reheating.
Potatoes are particularly prone to this and can disintegrate, for example.
So if you are making this recipe with the intention of freezing it and reheating it, you can intentionally slightly undercook the vegetables so that they will come out perfect once reheated on the stove.
If you’re making a big pot to eat half now and freeze the leftovers, you can scoop out half the soup when the veggies are slightly undercooked to freeze and continue cooking the rest of the soup to enjoy right away.
Soup can be frozen for up to three months.
What goes with minestrone soup?
I LOVE garlic bread with this soup. It’s very easy to make any recipe vegan by simply substituting the butter for plant-based butter or spread.
Alternatively, a simple crusty bread or fresh salad is also nice on the side.
To garnish you can sprinkle some croutons or your favourite fresh herb over the soup.
If you can find it you can try the Violife vegan Parmesan (not sponsored), which is my favourite, or any other vegan Parmesan product.
Love soup? Check out my collection of vegan soup recipes!
Vegan Minestrone Soup
For the soup
- 1 cup (112 gr.) short soup pasta such as ditalini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 large or 2 small stalks of celery finely diced
- 2 medium carrots finely diced
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 (28 oz / 790 gr. can) of diced or whole tomatoes
- 3 cups (710 ml) vegetable stock
- 5 oz (140 gr.) green beans topped and tailed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can (15 oz / 425 gr.) red kidney or white beans drained and rinsed
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the red pesto
- ¼ cup (20 gr.) roughly chopped walnuts (optional: toast them first)
- ½ packed cup (25 gr.) basil
- ½ cup (25 gr.) sun dried tomatoes in oil
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 4 - 6 tablespoons of oil from the jar of sun dried tomatoes
- A pinch of salt
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions, then drain and set aside. (The reason why the pasta is cooked separately is explained in the blog post above).
- Meanwhile, heat the oil for the soup in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sautee, stirring from time to time, until the onion is tender.
- Add the zucchini and sautee for two minutes more until beginning to soften.
- Pour in the can of tomatoes, juices and all. If using whole tomatoes, break them into chunks with your spoon. Add the vegetable stock.
- Raise heat to bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a gently simmer. Simmer until the zucchini, celery and carrots are tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare the red pesto by blending all the ingredients in a small food processor or in the tall cup that comes with an immersion blender. Add as much oil from the jar as necessary to blend it into a paste and the consistency that you like.
- Add the green beans and kidney beans to the pot and simmer for a few minutes longer until the green beans are tender and the kidney beans are heated through.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add some of the cooked pasta to each bowl (if it’s stuck together, just rinse it with water) and ladle the soup over top. Serve with the red pesto in a small bowl on the side to stir into each bowl to taste.