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Hearty Winter Minestrone

DFGFV

Hearty Winter Minestrone

This hearty winter minestrone is filled to the brim with vegetables, greens, and beans, which makes it a literal meal in a bowl. This is the soup you need to keep warm during the cooler season!

Hearty Winter Minestrone // FoodNouveau.com

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure is at the bottom of the article.


I don’t think I could go through winter without soup. I live in a city where winters are long, snowy, and extremely cold, and though I’ve become an expert at layering (even when I stay inside all day) and I rely on my trusted heated footrest to keep me warm at my desk, sometimes the cold goes straight to my bones. The only things that can really help me in those times are bottomless coffees and piping hot bowls of soup.

From quick lentil soup, to cheesy French onion soup, to oh-so-satisfying bowls of ramen, I love ALL soups with my whole heart. Growing up, the soup my mom made most often was minestrone. The minestrone my mom made was rich with veggies, beans, and pasta, which made it super hearty and nutritious. I remember when I was younger, I wasn’t so fond of the beans in the soup, but my love for minestrone grew as I did, and now it’s one of my favorite wintertime bowls of comfort.

I’m not sure my mom knew it back then, but minestrone isn’t a single, specific soup. The name of the soup, minestrone, comes from the Italian term minestra, which means, quite simply, “soup.” In Italian, several terms are used to designate soup: from zuppa, for a simple tomato soup, to minestrone, which is the most substantial type of soup. Minestrone is filled with vegetables and sometimes includes rice or pasta. It is always very thick and stew-like.

Fresh vegetables are the central ingredients of Italian minestrone soup, and the variety used changes according to seasons // FoodNouveau.com

There is no set recipe for minestrone. Indeed, minestrone was born out of necessity and was traditionally made out of whatever vegetables were available, with the addition of beans to make it more nutritious. This means you could name any vegetable soup a minestrone and adapt the ingredients you use to follow the seasons. A spring minestrone can be made with fresh peas, leeks, and fennel; a summer minestrone could include green beans, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes and could be served, perhaps, with a spoonful of homemade pesto on top; and a fall minestrone would for sure feature squash.

Winter minestrone is the heartiest variety of minestrone. Filled with vegetables that traditionally keep through the winter, such as onion, carrots, and potatoes, and enriched with bitter greens and beans, winter minestrone is a literal meal in a bowl. My recipe for winter minestrone is inspired by the soup my mom used to make, with the addition of a few clever flavor boosters, such as pancetta and parmesan rind.

Speaking of parmesan rind! If you buy wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, never ever throw away the rinds. Once you’ve used all the cheese, collect the rinds in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the freezer to use later. A single piece of rind adds a ton of flavor and depth to minestrone. It’s a great way to upgrade store-bought beef, chicken, or vegetable broth!

Helpful Tips for Making Winter Minestrone

Hearty Winter Minestrone // FoodNouveau.com

Can I freeze winter minestrone?

Winter minestrone is a soup you can and should make ahead of time. The flavors of this hearty soup fully develop after an overnight rest. So go on and make a double-batch: you can then freeze winter minestrone in portions and enjoy it for icy weeks or months to come.

Can I add other types of vegetables in winter minestrone?

Absolutely! Do as the Italians would and use whatever you have on hand. Frozen green peas, green beans, squash, and even broccoli or cauliflower florets would all make fine additions to winter minestrone.

Can I use dried beans instead of canned beans in winter minestrone?

Of course, you can! Soak 1/2 cup (125 ml) of dry beans of your choice overnight, then add them to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer the beans until tender, 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety. Drain and add to the winter minestrone when the recipe says to add in the canned beans.

You can use a wide variety of dried or canned beans in Italian minestrone soup // FoodNouveau.com

How can I make a vegan winter minestrone?

Easy peasy! Simply omit the pancetta and parmesan from the recipe, and make sure to use vegetable broth. Serve vegan winter minestrone sprinkled with nutritional yeast for a lovely boost in flavor.

 
Hearty Winter Minestrone // FoodNouveau.com

Winter Minestrone

This hearty winter minestrone is filled with vegetables, greens, and beans, which makes it a literal meal in a bowl. This is the soup you need to keep warm during the cooler season!
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:50 minutes
Total Time:1 hour
Servings 8 servings
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

To serve (optional)

Instructions

  • In a large pot set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the beef stock, water, diced tomatoes, beans, potato, Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, salt, oregano, thyme, and some black pepper. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the greens and dry pasta and keep cooking for 15 minutes.
  • SERVING: Fish out the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind out of the soup. To make winter minestrone truly special, garnish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil, a dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a few leaves of Italian parsley. Serve with crusty bread.
  • STORAGE: Divide the winter minestrone between airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
  • DAIRY-FREE OPTION: To make dairy-free minestrone, omit the parmesan from the recipe. Serve dairy-free winter minestrone sprinkled with nutritional yeast for a lovely boost in flavor.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make gluten-free minestrone, use gluten-free short dry pasta.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make vegan winter minestrone, omit the pancetta and parmesan from the recipe, and make sure to use vegetable broth. Serve vegan winter minestrone sprinkled with nutritional yeast for a lovely boost in flavor.

Notes

If you buy wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, never throw away the rinds! Once you’ve used all the cheese, collect the rinds in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the freezer to use later. A single piece of rind adds a ton of flavor and depth to Italian wedding soup. If you don’t have saved rinds but have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand, you can simply cut off the rind to add it to the soup. If you don’t have either, you can simply omit it from the recipe.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

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5 from 9 votes

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    There is still time to enjoy this winter minestrone soup comfort food dish. I better get started (grin). Love the ingredients and the presentation is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    Minestrone is the best soup ever! I made the vegan version by using vegetable broth and we all loved it. Perfect for the winter nights!

  3. 5 stars
    A perfect dish for such cold weather! It looks absolutely delicious and so tasty! A healthy soup that will enjoy and love by many! Loved it!

  4. Now I know I should never show away parmesan rinds and I luckily have a bit of a parmesan left in my fridge! This soup looks so nourishing and filling — can’t wait to make it this weekend!

  5. 5 stars
    Made it last night and it was delicious. I already had most of the ingredients so it was a great way to clean out my fridge and pantry. Easy to make for a quick dinner.

  6. This soup is comfort in a bowl on a cold winter day. It’s hearty, healthy and delicous. And I didn’t know that minestrone simply means “soup”!

    • Yep, soup = minestrone, it’s one of those things that most of us don’t know but make so much sense! I just love saying that word, too, makes the soup feel special 😉

  7. 5 stars
    This soup is so beautiful with all the bright colors, and it looks so hearty and healthy! I also save my parmesan rinds and I totally agree they add so much flavor :)