minestrone soup to warm you up

bowl of minestrone soup with a slice of crusty bread

A steaming bowl of this traditional Italian vegetable and bean soup makes a comforting meal on a chilly day. Because the majority of the ingredients in this recipe are canned, I can wait until days into a trip to prepare minestrone soup. The aromatics (onion, carrots, and celery) keep for a long time with my other cooled vegetables. If I’ve remembered to pack the appropriate amount of dried pasta in a zippered bag, I’m most of the way there! Serve this improvisation-friendly soup with a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese. Perhaps a lightly toasted slice of crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth. If you want to make bread, I like to use Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery’s no-knead bread recipe. I will often make minestrone soup in advance of a winter weekend afloat.

minestrone soup

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed (or use canned)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb blend
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cups rigatoni or shell pasta
  • 5 ounces raw spinach leaves (about 6 cups, packed)
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish



Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pot. Crumble the bacon.


Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots in the hot drippings over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender. Add the zucchini and green beans; cook for an additional 3 minutes.


Pour the chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and cannellini beans over the vegetables, then add the bay leaf, salt, pepper, Italian herbs, and chili flakes. Stir, then simmer for 20 minutes.


Boil 2 quarts of salted water and cook the pasta. Drain and add to the soup along with the spinach leaves and bacon crumbles. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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