Italian Minestrone Soup is hearty yet gentle, packed full of greens, chickpeas, and vegetables in a delicious and bright tomato broth. You can customize this recipe to use up pantry staples and clean out your crisper drawer, too.

Minestrone soup in a white bowl with a sliver spoon.

The umami secret ingredient in this classic Italian recipe is something different: porcini mushrooms. These little dried Italian mushrooms may not look like much (and you don’t need a lot) but they’re the backbone of this amazing soup.

Even though there are no strict rules about what goes in this rustic recipe, the basics are covered here. Of course, you can improvise depending on what you have on hand: leftover herbs, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, or even collard greens.

Any way you simmer it, it will be a bright and delicious soup you won’t be able to stop thinking about.


Recipe ingredients:

Minestrone soup ingredients in various clear bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Porcini mushrooms: Dried porcinis are sold in small packets, usually in the spice aisle, with the Asian ingredients, or in the produce section. They are sold whole, in pieces, or in powder form. You can also substitute a different dried mushroom such as Shiitakes (used in my chicken ramen). I buy dried porcinis on Amazon (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link).
  • Kale: Curly red, green, or deep, dark cavalo nero. Or any hearty, leafy dark green, like escarole, chard, etc.
  • Chickpeas: Borlotti beans are the classic bean in the soup, but you can use any type of beans or even lentils: cannellini, Northern beans, etc.
  • Orzo: Or any other small pasta: ditalini, rotini, or couscous. Minestrone can also be made with rice.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Hydrate the porcini mushrooms by adding them to a small bowl and pouring some boiling water over them. In 5 to 10 minutes, they’ll soften up. After that, take them out and mince them up. Keep the mushroom water, but strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter to get rid of any sand or grit.
    Rehydrated dried porcinis on a cutting board, chopped.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large pot with a heavy bottom or a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, porcini mushrooms, and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Then pour in the mushroom liquid and the water and use it to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and their juice, kale, and drained chickpeas. Stir everything together. It’s okay to add the kale in a few batches in order to get it all in the pot.
    Minestrone ingredients being added together in a sliver pot.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer until the greens are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the pasta and continue to simmer until tender. Smaller shapes take less time, usually 5 to 7 minutes. Give the broth a taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
    Orzo being added to minestrone soup in a sliver pot.
  4. Sprinkle bowls of the soup with red chili flakes and some grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Yield: Approximately 12 cups of soup.
  • Make ahead: I love this soup the best on the day it’s made when the pasta is perfectly al dente. If you need to make it ahead, hold the pasta back and add it when you reheat the soup.
  • Storage: Store leftover soup in the refrigerator and enjoy the leftovers within 4 days.
  • Freezing: This soup is a great candidate for freezing. Portion, label, and date. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before gently reheating on the stove.
  • Parmesan cheese: You can store leftover Parmesan rinds in the freezer for future soup-making and pull them out to add to soups like this. Major flavor!
  • Pancetta or chicken broth: Some classic minestrone recipes make the soup with chicken broth or beef broth or cooks might add some pancetta, a cured Italian bacon, to the pot along with the vegetables. This is a kitchen-sink style recipe, so everyone improvises a little bit depending on what they have.

Minestrone soup in a white bowl with a sliver spoon.

More delicious soups for stocking your freezer:

Minestrone soup in a white bowl with a sliver spoon.

Minestrone Soup

Italian Minestrone Soup is hearty yet gentle, packed full of greens, chickpeas, and vegetables in a delicious and bright tomato broth. You can customize this recipe to use up pantry staples and clean out your crisper drawer, too. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 279

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (see note 1)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 pound kale chopped (see note 2)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (see note 3)
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta (see note 4)
  • crushed red chili flakes for serving, optional

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, add dried mushrooms and boiling water. Let sit until soft and pliable, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer mushrooms to a cutting board and mince. Using a fine-mesh strainer lined with paper towel, or a coffee filter, strain liquid into a medium bowl. Set minced mushrooms and mushroom liquid aside.
  • In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot, celery, minced mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in strained mushroom liquid and water, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add tomatoes and their juice, kale, and chickpeas and stir to combine (add kale in batches if it doesn't immediately all fit in the pot). Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until kale is almost tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in orzo and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper). Garnish with red chili flakes if desired.

Notes

  1. Porcini mushrooms: Dried porcinis are sold in small packets, usually in the spice aisle, with the Asian ingredients, or in the produce section. They are sold whole, in pieces, or in powder form. You can also substitute a different dried mushroom such as Shiitakes (used in my chicken ramen). I buy dried porcinis on Amazon (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link). 
  2. Kale: Curly red, green, or deep, dark cavalo nero. Or any hearty, leafy dark green, like escarole, chard, etc.
  3. Chickpeas: Borlotti beans are the classic bean in the soup, but you can use any type of beans or even lentils: cannellini, Northern beans, etc.
  4. Orzo: Or any other small pasta: ditalini, rotini, or couscous. Minestrone can also be made with rice.
  5. Yield: Approximately 12 cups of soup.
  6. Make ahead: I love this soup the best on the day it's made when the pasta is perfectly al dente. If you need to make it ahead, hold the pasta back and add it when you reheat the soup.
  7. Storage: Store leftover soup in the refrigerator and enjoy the leftovers within 4 days.
  8. Freezing: This soup is a great candidate for freezing. Portion, label, and date. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before gently reheating on the stove.
  9. Parmesan cheese: You can store leftover Parmesan rinds in the freezer for future soup-making and pull them out to add to soups like this. Major flavor!
  10. Pancetta or chicken broth: Some classic minestrone recipes make the soup with chicken broth or beef broth or cooks might add some pancetta, a cured Italian bacon, to the pot along with the vegetables. This is a kitchen-sink style recipe, so everyone improvises a little bit depending on what they have.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 9gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 57mgPotassium: 574mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 9281IUVitamin C: 93mgCalcium: 141mgIron: 2mg
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