Vegan Minestrone

Hearty minestrone soup is a classic dish and the favorite of so many. And for good reason. Thick, delicious tomato broth is packed with flavorful garden veggies, beans, and pasta. Serve it as an opener to an Italian-inspired main meal or as a meal itself with some homemade crusty garlic bread and a big leafy salad.


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If you’ve followed us for any time, you know we love a good hearty soup around here, and soup season is all year long. One of our absolute favorites is this Italian-inspired minestrone soup. 

This thick vegetable soup, sometimes referred to as the national soup of Italy, is filled with lots and lots of vegetables, creamy kidney beans, and plump pasta shells all swimming in a rich flavorful veggie broth. And did I mention it’s ridiculously delicious?

Interestingly, there’s no real set recipe for minestrone soup. The base for minestrone soup recipes varies from region to region in Italy using seasonal veggies. But, while most variations do contain parmesan cheese or pesto as a final addition, classic minestrone soup does not contain meat. 

These days however, a lot of chef’s and home cooks unnecessarily add meat or chicken broth to their recipes for added “flavor and protein”. Trust me, this delicious vegan minestrone soup recipe is still packed protein and has a fantastic flavor the whole family will love. 

Why You’ll Love This Minestrone Vegetable Soup

  • This soup is a delicious copycat version of the Olive Garden favorite. (I believe Carraba’s had a minestrone soup but discontinued theirs.)
  • It’s a great way to use up garden vegetables in the summer months and to ensure you’re getting your veggies in the winter.
  • Minestrone so delicious and pairs perfectly with so many different options. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below.
Overhead photo of all the ingredients needed to make vegan minestrone soup

Healthy Minestrone Soup Ingredients

You’ll need some basic pantry staples and fresh vegetables for this easy vegan minestrone recipe:

  • Fresh garlic – minced
  • Carrots – sliced to 1/2 “ pieces
  • Celery – sliced to 1/2 “ pieces
  • Yellow onion – diced to 1/2 “ pieces
  • Russet potatoes – diced to 1/2 “ pieces
  • Fresh green beans – trimmed and cut to 1/2-1” pieces
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Light red kidney beans – drained and rinsed
  • Escarole or spinach – chopped
  • Small shell pasta
  • Vegan chicken bouillon – We like to use our homemade bouillon powder.
  • Herbs and Spices – dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dry parsley, ground black pepper
  • Olive oil – optional, for sauteing
  • Water
Overhead photo of a round white bowl of minestrone vegetable soup on a plate next to baguette slices

Substitution Options

If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients, here are our best substitution options. Please remember that substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a difference in the final product. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you! 

For the fresh garlic: Jarred minced garlic can be used with a slightly different flavor – use 1 teaspoon for each clove of garlic. 

For the yellow onion: You can also use white onion for this. I would stay away from using red onions.

For the russet potatoes: Use Yukon Gold or white potatoes, canned or fresh, as a substitute for the Russet potatoes.

For the fresh green beans: If your grocery store is out of these, you can also use frozen or canned green beans. You can also try asparagus or snap peas for something a little different.

For the canned crushed tomatoes: Feel free to use fresh diced tomatoes if you have those in abundance. I would recommend possibly cooking them down with a little tomato paste first. You can also use fire-roasted tomatoes for a bolder flavor.

For the light red kidney beans: Dark red kidney beans are the obvious substitute. You can also use small red beans or even pinto, cannellini beans or white beans in a pinch. You can also do a combination of beans.

For the escarole or spinach: Sub leafy kale or even romaine lettuce for the escarole or spinach in this soup.

For the small shells pasta: You can also use small elbow macaroni or ditalini. Any small form pasta works well. You can also use your favorite small-form, gluten-free pasta for a GF option.

For the vegan chicken bouillon:

2-3 vegan bouillon cubes can be used instead. A vegan bouillon paste also can be used. Around 2 Tbsp should work. You can always taste and adjust this at the end.

For the spices:

You can use Italian seasoning blend for the basil and oregano. Add some red pepper flakes if you want a little heat throughout the soup. Also feel free to add some fennel or rosemary and a bay leaf or two to amp up the flavor profile.

For the olive oil:

You can sub a lighter oil like safflower or avocado. You can also omit the oil if you’re looking for an oil-free option.

A grid of three overhead photos of a large soup pot in the various stages of making vegan minestrone soup

How to Make Vegetarian Minestrone Soup with Pasta

It’s really easy to make this amazing homemade soup. 

First, heat the olive oil in a very large pot over medium high heat. 

When the oil is heated, saute the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Then add all the seasonings except the bouillon powder and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes.

When the vegetables are soft and fragrant, add the tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, vegan bouillon and the water. Give it all a good stir and turn the heat to high. Bring the whole thing to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer at a medium low heat setting. Cover the pot partially, leaving a little gap for steam to escape. Simmer this way for 15 minutes.

Then, remove the lid. Add the pasta, kidney beans, escarole/spinach and continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 15-18 minutes until the pasta and green beans are tender.

Finally, taste and adjust the seasonings as you like. You may need to add more salt depending on your preference and the saltiness of the vegan chicken bouillon you’re using.

How to Serve Plant-Based Minestrone Soup

Serve this vegetable soup hot topped with freshly grated vegan parmesan or cheese seasoning and minced parsley. You can also add some air-fried croutons if you like.

What to Serve with Minestrone Soup

You can serve this soup as the opener of a great meal, or make a simple salad and some garlic bread and serve it as a great meal all its own.

Our favorite minestrone accompanying dishes are:

Overhead close up photo of an Italian vegetable soup in a round white bowl topped with vegan parmesan cheese

How to Store Leftover Easy Vegan Minestrone Soup

Like most soups, this vegan minestrone makes great leftovers and tastes even better the next day!

In the fridge: Allow the soup to cool completely. Store in a well-sealed, airtight container. Stored properly, this soup will be good for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

How to reheat: Reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes or on the stovetop on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until hot.

Can you freeze minestrone soup?

Yes! Frozen soup is good for up to 3 months! To freeze, place the cooled soup in an airtight, freezer-safe container.

I like to use our Souper Cubes to freeze the soup in individual portions then keep the blocks of frozen soup in freezer safe bags. That way I can just reheat what we want to eat and not have to thaw everything only to have to refreeze some again.

If you’re freezing the soup, we suggest cooking the pasta separately and adding it to each individual serving before eating.

How to defrost:  Defrost frozen soup in the microwave at 50% for about 6-8 minutes. Stir and place back in the microwave. Reheat at 80% for 2-3 minutes until heated through to your taste. You can also just place the frozen blocks still in the well-sealed bag in a bowl or pie dish and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Italian Minestrone Soup FAQs

Here are our answers to some common vegan minestrone questions!

Is Olive Garden minestrone soup vegan? 

Yes, the Olive Garden’s minestrone soup is suitable for vegans.

Is Minestrone soup vegan? 

Traditional minestrone soup recipes are usually vegetarian but not vegan due to the presence of parmesan cheese and sometimes an animal-based stock.

Is minestrone soup healthy? 

Yes, minestrone soup is healthy! Teeming with vitamin packed veggies and fiber and protein-filled beans, minestrone soup is a great, healthy soup.

What is the difference between minestrone soup and vegetable soup? 

The major difference between minestrone and vegetable soup is that minestrone will always have beans and often pasta. Vegetable soup is under no obligation to contain either to still be considered vegetable soup.

Why is the soup called minestrone? 

Minestrone comes from the Italian word minestrone. It loosely means “a thick or hearty vegetable soup or stew”. The term zuppa is usually reserved for lighter tomato or fish-based soups and minestra is for brothier vegetable and meat soups like Italian Wedding soup.

What is the difference between pasta fagioli and minestrone? 

The main difference between pasta fagioli and minestrone is that minestrone has a variety of different vegetables as the stars of the soup. Pasta fagioli translates as “pasta and beans”. While it may or may not contain a full mirepoix, it will usually contain no other vegetables than chopped onion and garlic as a main part of the recipe.

What is the thickening agent for minestrone? 

Minestrone doesn’t usually require a thickener. Just allow the soup to thicken as simmers and the liquid evaporates. If you really want a thick broth, you can mix 2 teaspoons of corn starch with a tablespoon of warm water and add it to the soup near the end as it simmers.

Head on photo of hands grating vegan parmesan over a bowl of minestrone soup

More Healthy Soup Recipes

I hope you enjoy this minestrone soup as much as we do! If you do try it, we’d love to hear what you think. Leave a star rating and comment on the section below! 

We love to cheer you on in the kitchen, and it helps others find our great vegan recipes. Enjoy!

Yield: 8 large servings

Minestrone Soup Recipe

Overhead photo of a round white bowl of minestrone soup topped with grated dairy-free parmesan

Hearty minestrone soup is a classic dish and the favorite of so many. And for good reason. Thick, delicious tomato broth is packed with flavorful garden veggies, beans, and pasta. Serve it as an opener to an Italian-inspired main meal or as a meal itself with some homemade crusty garlic bread and a big leafy salad.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dry parsley
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups russet potatoes - diced
  • 2 cup fresh green beans, trimmed to 1/2-1” pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken bouillon
  • 8 cups (1/2 gallon) water
  • 1 cup dry small shell pasta
  • 1 (15-oz.) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped escarole or spinach

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. 
  2. Saute the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion on medium high for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add all the seasonings except the bouillon and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, bouillon and water and give it all a good stir.
  5. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer at med-low, and cover the pot partially, leaving a little gap for steam to escape. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Uncover. Add the pasta, kidney beans, escarole/spinach and continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 15-18 minutes until the pasta and green beans are tender.
  7. Taste and adjust servings as you see fit. You may need to add more salt depending on your preference and the saltiness of the bouillon you’re using, up to 1/2 tsp. Serve topped with grated vegan parmesan.

Notes

How to Store Minestrone Soup

In the fridge: Allow the soup to cool completely. Store in a well-sealed, airtight container. Stored properly, this soup will be good for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. 

How to reheat: Reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes or on the stovetop on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until hot.

In the freezer: To freeze, place the cooled soup in an airtight, freezer-safe container. I like to use our Souper Cubes to freeze the soup in individual portions then keep the blocks of frozen soup in freezer safe bags. That way I can just reheat what we want to eat and not have to thaw everything only to have to refreeze some again. If you're freezing the soup, we suggest cooking the pasta separately and adding it to each individual serving before eating.

How to defrost:  Defrost frozen soup in the microwave at 50% for about 6-8 minutes. Stir and place back in the microwave. Reheat at 80% for 2-3 minutes until heated through to your taste. You can also just place the frozen blocks still in the well-sealed bag in a bowl or pie dish and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1093mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.

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