Winter Minestrone

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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.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 56 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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