white shallow bowl of minestrone with spoon, napkin, and slices of bread
Home » Italian Recipes » Italian Recipe for Minestrone Soup – That Your Kids Will Actually Want to Eat!

Italian Recipe for Minestrone Soup – That Your Kids Will Actually Want to Eat!

Last updated on April 4th, 2024

We have all experienced the dreaded vegetable soup night. The tasteless, dissatisfying and sad vegetable soup makes its way onto every dinner table from time to time but not without the accompanied grunts and groans of the kids. 

But guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way! Add this Italian minestrone to your repetoire. It’s a delicious vegetable soup, straight from where I live, in Tuscany. 

Most Italian kids actually enjoy minestrone (Italian vegetable soup) because it’s homemade with lots of fresh, seasonal produce and a couple of Italian secrets sprinkled in to make it irresistible. My kids are no different than yours, but they actually enjoy soup night. So, let me share with you what exactly it is that makes Italian minestrone different from others and how to make it at home. 

top view of child bending over minestrone bowl on a marble table from right hand side of picture frame.
My son getting ready to dig into his Italian minestrone soup.

The recipe I am going to share below is based on a winter minestrone as I think the winter vegetables make for the best version of Italian minestrone soup (Italian vegetable soup). Just swap the same amount of vegetables out for a different kind if you can’t find every single one – no problem! Feel free to also add more vegetables to the recipe. 

I will also cover how to correctly pronounce minestrone in Italian, lots of ways to serve it and how to change it up so you never get bored of this classic. 

And don’t miss my tips at the end to learn the Italian secrets involved in getting your kids to love this soup as much as they love pasta al pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce). 

Italian Minestrone Pronunciation

top view of white bowl of minestrone soup on marble table

Minestrone is pronounced mee-neh-STROH-neh in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of minestrone:

What is Italian Minestrone?  

Display of fresh vegetables at a market in Italy - potatoes, beans, carrots, celery, and greens.

Italian minestrone is a chunky Italian vegetable soup made with fresh, seasonal produce, plenty of olive oil and dressed up with parmesan cheese, if desired. It’s served all year round, even in the hot summer months in the evening. 

During the fall and winter, lots of greens such as kale, swiss chard, spinach, cabbages and potatoes are used. For a spring minestrone, fennel, fresh peas and pearl onions take a front seat. Summer minestrone is full of zucchini, green beans, cherry tomatoes and carrots. Every season brings a new harvest and with every harvest comes a new minestrone. 

Minestrone in Italy

Ziploc bag of chopped minestrone vegetables with some spread out on a wooden cutting board.

Minestrone is a staple for many Italians and it has been historically because it’s cheap and healthy to make. It can be supplemented with some locally made cheese and fresh bread and you have a wholesome meal ready in no time. 

At open air markets in Italy you will notice vegetable stands selling large bags of seasonal vegetables all chopped up and mixed together. This is a classic Italian way of making minestrone. All you have to do is heat some oil, throw the bag of chopped veggies in, quickly saute, add water or broth and let simmer until tender. Every vendor has their own mix, proportions and secrets to making their minestrone but no matter what, the vegetables will be seasonal.

bags of chopped vegetables for sale at market to make minestrone soup
Bags of pre-chopped vegetables for sale at Sant’Ambrogio market in Florence

You do not need this mix to make great minestrone at home. You just need to get those veggies chopped, which is actually kind of a zen act. If you get all your veggies washed, the chopping actually goes quite quickly and you can get a minestrone on the stovetop in about 20 minutes of chopping. 

Italians will make up a big batch of cut veggies as indicated in my recipe and then freeze in individual bags ready to pull out of the freezer for a quick dinner in no time. Alternatively, you can cook all the veggies at one, as I prefer to do, and then freeze the soup you don’t use. Either way, it’s a great way to get at least two meals out of cooking just once. 

Ingredients For Italian Minestrone

top view of marble table with a bunch of kale bound with a rubber band

Serves 8-10. prep time 30 min. cook time 25 min

Please Note:  The amount of seasoning and oil is for the whole batch of chopped vegetables. If you are cooking only half and freezing the rest, adjust accordingly. 

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/4 savoy cabbage (or any kind really)
  • 7-8 cups (roughly 250 g) of spinach, swiss chard, kale or any combination of
  • 3 medium-large potatoes
  • 2 leeks or 1 large onion (red or yellow)
  • ½ cup good olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • pepper to taste
top view of several whole potatoes on a marble background

How To Make Italian Minestrone

top view of bowl of minestrone on a marble counter in a white bowl
  1. Clean all the vegetables very well.
  2. Peel the carrots and remove ends, sad or discolored leaves and parts. 
  3. Cut the zucchini, celery, carrots, fennel, potatoes and onion (if using) into small chunks, more or less the same size. 
  4. Slice the leafy greens, cabbage and leeks (if using). 
  5. Mix all the vegetables together.
  6. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. It may seem like a lot of oil but this is what makes the soup really delicious.
  7. Add the cut mixed vegetables, salt and pepper, mix well and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring every minute or two so all the vegetables get a chance to brown ever so slightly on the bottom of the pan. 
  8. Add water (or stock if you prefer) just to cover the vegetables and cook over low heat for 15-25 minutes, just until all the vegetables are fork tender (cooking time will vary depending on how finely your vegetables are cut). If you see the soup is too thick, just add a bit of water. Season with salt and add the apple cider vinegar.

Substitutions For Minestrone

  • Keep in mind this is a general recipe in which any vegetable can be cut out, exchanged or doubled if you like, just add enough water to cover the vegetables in step 8.
  • Add 1 cup of chopped green beans or yellow squash instead of fennel for a summer minestrone.
  • Add 1 cup freshly shelled peas and ½ cup chopped asparagus for a spring minestrone. I prefer to add the peas and asparagus in the last 10 minutes of cooking so they don’t get overcooked. 
  • Add a couple of chopped cherry tomatoes to the mix. 
  • Substitute broccoli cut into very small pieces for the cabbage or add it in with the cabbage.

How to Serve Italian Minestrone

side view of white plate with oil on the side and two slices of toasted bread. Plate on wooden table.
Always serve plenty of bread with minestrone
  • If pureeing the soup, serve with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons (I prefer to make homemade by cubing bread, tossing it with olive oil and salt and baking at 350 until golden brown). 
  • Add a small spoonful of pesto to each bowl before serving.
  • It’s customary in Italy to serve bread with soup.
  • If you are looking to make a heartier meal out of this soup, serve a couple of cheeses with the soup or various crostini (toasted bread topped with your favorites such as cheese, tomatoes and garlic, pâté, etc.).

Notes and Tips For Making Italian Minestrone

White bowl of minestrone soup on a wooden table with two slices of bread in upper left and a spoon and black napkin on right.
  • Use this recipe as a “clean out the refrigerator recipe” meaning if you have half a pepper, one zucchini, four carrots, a bunch of spinach, 2 onions and 3 potatoes you have a perfectly lovely vegetable soup in the making. Simply adjudge the water to just cover the vegetables in step 8 and ecco fatto – it’s all set!
  • KID-FRIENDLY TIP: Try puréeing the soup for a creamy version. Two of my kids prefer it puréed so I usually leave half of it chunky and purée the other half to satisfy everyone. Serve with croutons in this case (also a great food option for weaning babies). 
  • Feel free to add more veggies to the mix but you may need to increase the liquid. 
  • Add one 14 ounce can of cannellini beans or chickpeas at the end when all the veggies are cooked through to add a vegetarian protein. Heat just until the beans are warmed through. 
  • KID-FRIENDLY TIP: Add ½-¾ cup small pasta or broken spaghetti at the end and cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente (this is popular with my kids). You may need to add slightly more liquid if you do this. If you are adding pasta to pureed soup, cook it separately, as you would pasta, and add it already cooked to the pureed soup. To learn more about cooking pasta check out How To Cook Pasta Like an Italian – Step-by-Step.
  • Add ¾-1 cup cooked rice at the end. 
  • Since I live in Tuscany good extra virgin olive oil is very accessible and affordable so I use the best possible. If this is not the case for you, just do the best you can based on accessibility and price of the oil. Your soup will still be delicious if you can only use a basic olive oil instead of an extra virgin olive oil. 
  • If you freeze the cut veggies or the soup be sure to date it and consume it within three months. 
  • Adding a parmesan rind to the minestrone while cooking is a great way to add extra flavor.
White bowl of pureed minestrone soup on a white marble counter.  There is a hand holding the bowl on the left.
Pureed Italian vegetable soup is super kid friendly. Stir in cooked rice or pasta, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and they will be sure eat every last bite!

More Italian Soups: If you love Italian soups, consider making:
Pappa al Pomodoro
Ribollita
Italian Minestrone
Creamy Italian Kale Soup
Italian Greens and Beans
Italian Lentil Soup

White bowl of minestrone soup on wooden table with slices of bread, spoon, and black napkin.

Italian Minestrone Soup

A chunky vegetable soup made with fresh, seasonal produce, plenty of olive oil and dressed up with parmesan cheese, if desired.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3 zucchini medium
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 bulb fennel large
  • 1/4 head savoy cabbage or any other type of cabbage
  • 7-8 cups spinach, swiss chard, kale, or combo of them (roughly 250 g)
  • 3 potatoes medium-large
  • 2 leeks or 1 large red or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Clean all the vegetables very well.
  • Peel the carrots and remove ends, sad or discolored leaves and parts.
  • Cut the zucchini, celery, carrots, fennel, potatoes and onion (if using) into small chunks, more or less the same size.
  • Slice the leafy greens, cabbage and leeks (if using).
  • Mix all the vegetables together.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. It may seem like a lot of oil but this is what makes the soup really delicious.
  • Add the cut mixed vegetables, salt and pepper, mix well and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring every minute or two so all the vegetables get a chance to brown ever so slightly on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add water (or stock if you prefer) just to cover the vegetables and cook over low heat for 15-25 minutes, just until all the vegetables are fork tender (cooking time will vary depending on how finely your vegetables are cut). If you see the soup is too thick, just add a bit of water. Season with salt and add the apple cider vinegar.

Notes

Notes and Tips:
  • The amount of seasoning and oil is for the whole batch of chopped vegetables. If you are cooking only half and freezing the rest, adjust accordingly. 
  • Use this recipe as a “clean out the refrigerator recipe” meaning if you have half a pepper, one zucchini, four carrots, a bunch of spinach, 2 onions and 3 potatoes you have a perfectly lovely vegetable soup in the making. Simply adjudge the water to just cover the vegetables in step 8 and ecco fatto – it’s all set!
  • Try puréeing the soup for a creamy version. Two of my kids prefer it puréed so I usually leave half of it chunky and purée the other half to satisfy everyone. Serve with croutons in this case (also a great food option for weaning babies). 
  • Feel free to add more veggies to the mix but you may need to increase the liquid. 
  • Add one 14 ounce can of cannellini beans or chickpeas at the end when all the veggies are cooked through to add a vegetarian protein. Heat just until the beans are warmed through. 
  • Add ½-¾ cup small pasta or broken spaghetti at the end and cook for 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente (this is popular with my kids). You may need to add slightly more liquid if you do this. If you are adding pasta to pureed soup, cook it separately, as you would pasta, and add it already cooked to the pureed soup.
  • Add ¾-1 cup cooked rice at the end. 
  • Since I live in Tuscany good extra virgin olive oil is very accessible and affordable so I use the best possible. If this is not the case for you, just do the best you can based on accessibility and price of the oil. Your soup will still be delicious if you can only use a basic olive oil instead of an extra virgin olive oil. 
  • If you freeze the cut veggies or the soup be sure to date it and consume it within three months. 
Substitutions:
  • Keep in mind this is a general recipe in which any vegetable can be cut out, exchanged or doubled if you like, just add enough water to cover the vegetables in step 8.
  • Add 1 cup of chopped green beans or yellow squash instead of fennel for a summer minestrone.
  • Add 1 cup freshly shelled peas and ½ cup chopped asparagus for a spring minestrone. I prefer to add the peas and asparagus in the last 10 minutes of cooking so they don’t get overcooked. 
  • Add a couple of chopped cherry tomatoes to the mix. 
  • Substitute broccoli cut into very small pieces for the cabbage or add it in with the cabbage.
Keyword authentic, seasonal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Minestrone Recipe FAQ

Can I freeze minestrone?

Yes, I do it all the time and it’s one of my favorite meals to make in bulk. I will increase the veggies (oftentimes not even measuring or really caring what I put in) and freeze in batches whatever we don’t use. It’s a lifesaver on busy nights.

Would Italians just have minestrone for dinner or lunch?

They certainly would with bread. This is a classic winter dish that Italians love to make but they also love to make it when they feel they need to eat a little on the lighter side, say, after the holidays when they have been doing nothing but eating their hearts out for weeks. Italians are very sensible in this way. 

Can I add beans or legumes to minestrone?

This is an ideal recipe with which to experiment and try different things. In Italy, this is one of those recipes in which every family has their own proportions and favorite things to add. I listed chickpeas and cannellini beans above because those are my personal favorites. Any bean will work. You could even experiment with pureeing half of the beans before adding to create a creamy texture within the chunky soup. 

What is the best time of year to make minestrone?

I think the best time is in the winter when you want warmer food and when in Italy there are a lot of really good leafy greens available. Spring minestrone in Italy is also very good as the fresh peas and asparagus make it unico (special), as my friends and family would say.

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