This Healthy Minestrone Recipe is a traditional soup recipe from Italy handed down for generations in my Uncle’s family.
With the cold front moving in, it felt like a great time to update this recipe originally posted in 2016! It needed a facelift and a video, which is what it got!
My Aunt got this recipe from Uncle Joe Digiobbi’s (her Uncle-in-law). He was first generation here. His parents were from Italy. Uncle Joe lived in a cool old house in San Fran, where he served my Aunt this soup on a cold, foggy San Fran night. She begged him for the recipe, even though it was known he didn’t give out his recipes. When he started to tell her, she frantically wrote the recipe down.
The first time I had this soup was a cold December day in Van Couver, Washington. My aunt and I had gone to visit my Grandfather. I was a sophomore or junior in college, so I’d basically been living off of Papa Johns’s and bagels for the past several years. My Aunt decided to make this soup for us for dinner.
I didn’t even know what a leek was when she came to that on the ingredient list. (I now think of them as giant green onions, which is pretty much what they are.) I vividly remember the experience of washing and prepping the vegetables, as I think it might have been the first time I ever cooked anything other than top ramen in my entire life.
What I remember most, though, was the smell. The smell of simmering garlicky oniony vegetables took over the house and had me drooling.
Swaps and Substitutions
Over the years, I’ve made only ONE change to this recipe. I add some Italian chicken sausage for extra protein. I love that, unlike many minestrone recipes, this one is potato-based. Something about it makes it much more filling and homey, almost like a stew. It’s a simple recipe, but oh man, it’s so good.
- Olive Oil – use whatever neutral oil you like to saute your veggies in!
- Leeks – these are key! Please don’t omit or substitute.
- Yellow Onion – You can substitute white onion, but don’t omit or substitute.
- Carrots – You could swap this out if you don’t have any on hand or omit it! Celery or even zucchini could be another option.
- Garlic Cloves – Fresh garlic is key, but of course, you can substitute garlic powder if necessary.
- Potatoes – Uncle Joe used potatoes. You could substitute sweet potatoes or use 8 ounces of elbow pasta.
- Red Kidney Beans – Kidney beans are the traditional bean found in minestrone, but you can make substitutions if needed.
- Bouillon – this is optional, but I’ve never made it without it.
- Tomato Sauce – this is the base for your sauce; do not substitute.
- Water – I now use 4 cups of chicken broth because the all-natural MSG-free/preservative-free bouillon cubes I use now are not quite as flavorful as the traditional ones at the grocery store. So now I do those all-natural cubes and the chicken broth.
- Parmesan Cheese – optional garnish
- Parsley – optional garnish
- Chicken Italian Sausage – totally optional, adds protein, making this soup even heartier and filling. However, the soup is delicious as a vegetarian soup as well.
How to Store and Freeze Healthy Minestrone Soup
Store: Store this healthy minestrone soup recipe in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop to 165F.
Freeze: This is a great soup to save some in the freezer! Freeze this soup in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen in the microwave to 165F or defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or stovetop to 165F.
In the mood for soup? You may also like these recipes:
- Loaded Veggie Kielbasa Soup
- Healthy Hamburger Soup
- Chicken Quinoa Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Italian Sausage Tortelli Soup
- Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 1 8 quart stockpot
- 2-3 T olive oil
- 2 leeks see notes for preparation
- 3-4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 whole yellow onion chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 large potatoes chopped
- 15 ounce red kidney beans or 1.5 cooked red kidney beans
- 3 cubes chicken or vegetable bullion here is a gluten free option
- 2-3 8- ounce tomato sauce cans
- 6 cups water or 4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water
- 1 lb Italian sausage turkey, chicken etc.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil into a large pot and place on medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and onion to the pan. Cook onion, leeks, and garlic until translucent and tender.2 leeks , 3-4 garlic cloves, 1 whole yellow onion , 2-3 T olive oil
- Add carrots, potatoes, kidney beans, tomato sauce, and water to the pot. Stir well to combine.2 carrots, 2 large potatoes, 15 ounce red kidney beans, 6 cups water , 2-3 8- ounce tomato sauce cans
- Optional - add bouillon cubes, and stir until dissolved. Optional- cook sausage all the way through on a skillet on medium-high heat, slice into 1/2 inch pieces, and add to the pot. (You can also cook them right before soup finishes and add the sausage in then!)1 lb Italian sausage, 3 cubes chicken or vegetable bullion
- Bring to a boil, then cook on simmer for 2-3 hours. Add water as needed for desired consistency. (see note)
- Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese.½ cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup parsley