This green minestrone soup recipe makes an easy, versatile, year-round soup that starts out as a light fresh spring soup the first day, but leave it overnight and it evolves into a warming, hearty autumn broth. Vegetables can be substituted according to the season but use frozen peas and beans in autumn and you can pretend it’s spring!
You’ll love this green minestrone soup recipe, one of our best potato soup recipes, if you like slurping soups as much as I do – chicken soups, noodle soups, chicken noodle soups, fish soups, warming winter soups, cold summer soups, I love them all. But I especially adore those hearty European-style broths that are almost stews, such as Italian ribolitta and Italian wedding soup.
Featuring macaroni, which makes this a hearty soup, it’s also one of our best pasta recipes. But what I love most about this green minestrone soup recipe is that the soup evolves just like the seasons, transforming from a fresh light spring soup on the first day of making it to a warming hearty autumn broth if you refrigerate the leftovers overnight and reheat it the next day.
It’s one of my favourite healthy Sunday dinner ideas. Although there are only two of us, I make enough of this soup for six so that there’ll be leftovers to refrigerate overnight. On the first day, usually a Saturday, I simmer everything until just-cooked, adding the beans and peas at the end so that they’re still fresh, firm and bright green when serving.
Then, while we’re eating, I leave the remaining soup to simmer longer, until the potatoes are soft and starting to break apart, until the butter beans are rich and creamy, and the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind is melting and oozing. I refrigerate it overnight and the next day we have a hearty stew-like broth for lunch or dinner.
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Green Minestrone Soup Recipe that Evolves Like the Seasons from a Light Spring Soup to Hearty Autumn Broth
If you don’t have a green minestrone soup recipe in your recipe app then make sure to save our recipe as you’re going to want to put this one on repeat – especially if you’re a fan of a classic Italian minestrone.
So what is a green minestrone soup anyway? Well, a traditional Italian minestrone soup is essentially a hearty vegetable soup with dried beans and pasta, typically macaroni. Thick and rich, it’s a quintessential autumn-winter soup.
A classic minestrone is so filling and warming, and the longer you leave it to simmer on the stove, the denser it becomes. You’d probably never cook it in spring or summer – unlike this green minestrone soup recipe, which is a recipe you could easily make year-round.
A green minestrone soup by contrast is fresh and light, especially the first day when everything is just-cooked and remains firm. But leave it to simmer longer, so the vegetables soften and the soup thickens, and re-heat it the next day, and you have a hearty winter or autumn soup.
Consisting mostly of green vegetables – anything green you have to hand, but for me the must-include veggies are green cabbage, celery, green beans, and peas – if feels like a spring soup.
Stick to spring vegetables such as zucchini and asparagus and it is – but these days frozen green beans and frozen peas are always available, making this a fantastic year-round soup. I only have a few tips to making this green minestrone soup recipe.
Tips to Making this Green Minestrone Soup Recipe
As usual, just a few tips to making this green minestrone soup recipe, starting with the vegetables. As I mentioned above, by all means use fresh seasonal spring vegetables if you’re currently experiencing the northern hemisphere spring and you can source loads of lovely fresh beans, fresh peas, zucchini, and asparagus.
But if you’re in the increasingly chilly southern hemisphere, where it’s autumn going on winter, don’t hesitate to use frozen peas and frozen green beans. Peas and beans are the best of the frozen veg and always taste fresh, and make this a year-round soup.
Other autumn-winter vegetables, such as leeks, turnips, parsnips and cabbage work. While I’ve specified ‘green cabbage’ in this green minestrone soup recipe, use whatever cabbage you have at hand. Because this is also one of those soups that you can use to clear out the fridge.
We always seem to have a couple of kinds of cabbage in the fridge – I love cabbage, it’s so healthy; I use it a lot in my Russian family recipes, while Terence uses it in Chinese and Southeast Asian recipes (see our collection of cabbage recipes) – and I actually used green cabbage, as well as the long Chinese cabbage or Napa cabbage when I made this for the shoot last week.
Now, what about the beans? Traditionally, Italians have long used dried beans, soaked overnight for their soups, especially minestrone, but I’ve used canned butter beans, which I love for their rich creamy taste for this. Do as you prefer.
So what do I cook this green minestrone soup recipe in? Well, I fry the onion and cabbage in our round flat bottomed wok first – I do almost everything in the wok – and then I transfer that and cook the soup in our Dutch oven, in which Terence also bakes his sourdough.
If you’ve not bought a Dutch oven yet, do it now. We use it for so many dishes – here are just some of our favourite Dutch oven recipes. A Le Creuset Dutch oven is perhaps the most-coveted, but we have the more affordable Lodge Dutch oven which is fantastic for soups and stews. Otherwise your favourite soup pot or stock pot will do the trick.
Do boil the macaroni separately and add it right at the end, just before serving. Don’t even think about cooking it in the Dutch Oven as I’ve seen a lot of recipes recommend – the heat is way too hot and the pasta will stick to the sides and the bottom of the Dutch Oven.
The macaroni will also continue to expand, so if you’re doing as we do and making enough to refrigerate overnight and eat as leftovers the next day, I recommend only adding enough macaroni for the first serving, and keeping the rest in an air-tight container and adding it just before serving the next day.
Lastly, a good quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably) or a decent quality olive oil is essential, if possible, as you’ll really taste it in this soup – as is a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
Try to avoid the grated ‘parmesan cheese’ that looks like saw dust, if you can, as there’s a reason for that: tests over the years have found that some parmesan brands contain cellulose, made from wood pulp.
Adding a small rind of Parmigiano Reggiano during the cooking process. We always save our rinds for our Italian soups and I recommend you do the same. It adds a richness and creaminess and hint of Italian flavour that really makes this soup.
Green Minestrone Soup Recipe
- 300 g green cabbage - shredded
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large white onion - finely diced
- 2 stalks celery - finely diced
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 litre water - or as needed
- 300 g potato - peeled and diced
- 1 zucchini - finely diced
- 200 g can butter beans - drained
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Parmigiano Reggiano - rind
- 1 cup macaroni - cooked until al dente
- 100 g green beans
- 150 g peas - fresh or frozen
- 15 g fresh dill
- 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano - or Pecorino Roman, grated
- After shredding the cabbage, transfer it to a bowl, sprinkle a teaspoon of sea salt over it, combine well, and set it aside.
- In a flat round bottomed wok, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-heat, and fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes or so until soft and fragrant, then transfer to a Dutch Oven or soup pot.
- Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the wok, then the shredded white cabbage, combine well, and fry for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then transfer to the soup pot.
- Pour a litre of vegetable stock (or stock of choice) and a litre of water into the pot, turn on the heat to high, add the diced potatoes, a teaspoon of sea salt, bring to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer.
- To the soup spot, add the finely diced zucchini, drained can of butter beans, white pepper, garlic powder, and rind of Parmigiano Reggiano, stir to combine, and simmer for ten minutes.
- In a separate pot, boil a litre of water, add a teaspoon of sea salt, cook the cup of macaroni until al dente, then drain and set aside.
- To the soup pot, add the green beans, stir to combine, and simmer for another few minutes, then add the peas, stir to combine and simmer for a final few more minutes or so until the peas are just done.
- Add the macaroni and chopped fresh dill to the soup pot, stir to combine, and taste the soup, adjusting the seasoning as needed.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle on some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Roman, cracked black pepper, and a little more fresh dill if desired, and serve immediately with toasted sourdough.
Please do let us know if you make this green minestrone soup recipe in the comments below, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.