When it’s cold and snowy, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of soup. This veggie-packed winter minestrone with potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, and beans will warm you up!
Minestrone is a tricky thing – is there a singular authentic recipe? Sharing a beloved, classic dish worries me sometimes – what if I step on someone’s toes due to a horrible culinary crime of substituting ingredients? So I turned to research in my paranoid state and learned, after reviewing many recipes from trusted sources, that minestrone recipes are sort of like snowflakes – no two are alike. However, the common thread among all is that minestrone is a smart (and delicious!) way to use up whatever odds and ends are hanging around the kitchen.
In the last year or so, I’ve taken to making small batches of soup, but this minestrone freezes well, so it’s worth making a big o’ batch to have on hand through the cold months. I followed advice from two different places – Rao’s Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino ( a compilation of recipes from the famed New York City Italian restaurant) and Hunter Gatherer Angler Cook, the James Beard award-winning food blog created by Hank Shaw. From Rao’s, I got the basic proportions, and I borrowed Hank’s idea to puree the pancetta, which results in a subtle pork flavor and a thicker, velvetier soup texture that you wouldn’t otherwise get just using stock alone.
- Look for packages of diced pancetta in the deli section at the grocery store. It’s usually sold in 4-ounce packages, and for this recipe, you’ll need 3 packages for a total of 12 ounces. After you render the pork fat, transfer the cooked pancetta to a food processor and pulse it until it breaks down and turns into a paste. You will add it back to the pan, where it will melt into the soup, lending a porky flavor without chunks of meat in the soup.
- Carrots, onion, and celery cook in the pork fat left behind in the pan by the pancetta. From there, you add potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, vegetable stock, and water. I also added a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
- After the veggies have simmered for 45 minutes, add the cannellini beans, kidney beans, chopped fresh spinach, and fresh parsley. Simmer the soup for another 15 minutes.
- I like to top the bowls of minestrone soup with a generous sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. For the leftover soup, I let it cool and divided it into freezer-safe containers. It keeps well in the freezer for two to three months.
More Winter Soup RecipesPrint
A warm a cozy winter minestrone full of good-for-you veggies and beans. This recipe makes a big batch of soup that freezes well.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Soups
- Cuisine: Italian
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces diced pancetta
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 5–6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
- 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower florets
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 (28-oz) can whole San Marzano plum tomatoes, with juices (see note)
- 1 (15.5-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15.5-oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- grated pecorino romano, for serving
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook it until it’s rendered most of it’s fat. The bottom of the pan should be coated. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta (leave the fat in the pan) and transfer it to a food processor. Give it a few good pulses until it looks like a paste. Set it aside.
- In the same pot that you cooked the pancetta, add the onions, celery, carrots and sprigs of thyme. Cook it all together over medium-high heat for about five minutes. Add the pancetta back to the pot and give it all a good stir and let it all cook for another few minutes.
- Next, add the potatoes, cauliflower, vegetable broth, tomatoes, and 2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir everything together. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes. If the soup gets too thick too fast, thin it out with a bit of water, if needed.
- After 45 minutes, first fish out the thyme stems to discard and then add the beans, chopped spinach and parsley. Simmer the soup 15 minutes. Check the soup for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with grated pecorino romano cheese, if using.
I recommend breaking up the tomatoes (I just squish them with my hands) before you add them to the soup to ensure they fully break down as they cook. If you don’t want to deal with this step you can substitute the same amount of diced or crushed canned tomatoes.
Nutrition estimate does not include the cheese.
Recipe adapted from Rao’s Cookbook by Frank Pellegrino
- Calories: 340
- Sugar: 9.6g
- Fat: 6.6g
- Carbohydrates: 51.2g
- Fiber: 13.1g
- Protein: 21.5g
Keywords: minestrone soup
Post and photos updated from the archives. First published in January 2016.